Page 10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 7, 1986
A Dark-Adapted Eye
Hardcover, 264 pp.
Take one bloody murder, add a
closet full of famity skeletons,
and a dash of colorful characters.
Pour ingredients into a plot of jea -
lousy, love, lust, hate, and sus -
pense. Watch the action simmer.
Barbara Vine has definitely
cooked up a winner in her latest
psychological thriller, A Dark-
Adapted Eye. Vine is the a -
ward-winning British author Ruth
Kindall, writing for the first time
under this pseudonym. No stran -
get to the murder mystery, Vine
has written thirteen novels fea -
turing Detective Inspector Wex -
ford, in addition to other works.
She triumphs here, however, in
ARE A GREAT
WAY TO GET
her striking originality. Al -
though the elements of love and
jealousy are standard novel ma -
terial, they are used here in a
totally different context. The situ -
ations described seem almost
unbelievable. But, Vine's char -
acters are people who are so real
they seem familiar. It is this
identification withthe characters
that make even the "hard to
digest" incidents believable.
The novel occurs in a small
English village during the years
surrounding World War II. It
begins when Faith Severn is asked
for her account of Vera Hillyard's
life. A writer is interested in
writing a book on her Aunt Vera's
life, and Faith reluctantly obliges.
Vera is the infamous murderer,
whose scandalous act resulted in
her death by hanging over twenty-
five years ago. Faith has lived
with the public shame of being in
Vera's family all those years, and
decides to assist the author in her
hope of uncovering Vera's moti -
vations for committing the hor -
What Faith discovers is that
everyone has something to hide.
It is a journey through time for
Faith, who re-examines the Aunt
Vera of her adolescence in a
mature light. Observations from
her youth suddenly make sense as
family secrets are revealed.
Although the reader knows
from the first page of the story
that Vera is the murderer, it is not
until the end that the victim and
circumstances are disclosed. It
does not take much detective skill
to figure out who the victim was,
but the motivation is what builds
the suspense. The reader wants to
turn the page, discover the next
surprising piece of information,
and then make sense of it.
Aside from the plot, the chara -
cters are Vine's strongest achieve -
ment. They are all very complex
individuals who are not always
who they seem to be. Further -
more, they could all use the help
of a good psychologist.
Vine's novel is a departure
from common murder mysteries.
In most books of the genre, the
story ends when the crime is
solved and the murderer
discovered. But, in A Dark-
Adapted Eye, it is after the
murderer is discovered that the
crime is actually solved. Or is it?
- Lisa Berkowitz
SNAKES AND LADDERS
With its Axtec ruins and Mexican
scenes, the cover of this album looks
like just another singer hopping on
the trendy cow-punk train. However,
Frank Tovey has a style all his own.
Tovey freely mixes a strong bass,
quality guitars, solid drums, and a
fibrephone, a batphone, and synthe-
sizers. When they are all brought to-
gether, they can really rock. The
success of this combination shows
on the title track, where a steady beat
and hip guitar are joined with super-
cool Spanish horns. Tovey conti-
nues by laying down some strong
hooks in "Shot in the Dark," with its
big bass and keyboard kaleidoscope
lending support. One is truly caught
in time for "Concrete," with its
monster beat and unleashed synthe-
Tovey mixes his good tunes with
equally strong lyrics. He has a lot to
say about our society and it's not all
pleasant. Of man's lost humanity,
he says Love lies limp and restless in
a mess on the floor/ No one thought
to ask what it came here for ("Shot
in the Dark"). Tovey tackles every-
thing from society's competitiveness
to nuclear war. And on "Shot in the
Dark," the role of chance is brought
in, too : There's a feather in my cap
but only I know the truth/ It was a
shot in the dark.
Tovey's album is indeed a feather
in his own cap; but it was certainly
no shot in the dark.
I. -)VE, POWER & JUSTICE
The Arms of Someone New is
Steve Jones and Mel Eberle, of
Champaign, Illinois. Well, plus a
few friends. Their new cassette
release (a record will come out
eventually) hosts additional players
along with this tried and true duo.
With the help of these other
musical collaborators and a fatter
budget for recording expenses,
Love, Power & Justice adds.
new dimensions to what was
already a very innovative
Jones and Eberle have already
made a name for The Arms of
Someone New due to the unusual
nature of their collaboration. Using
the facilities of the University of
Frank Tovey shines in 'Snakes and Ladders'.
STILL A VAILABLE
Register NOW at the UAC offices.
$2 late registration fee.
recording studio (legend has it that
this was the very first recording
studio in the country), and an
assortment of instruments, this duo
is often heard but seldom seen.
Meanwhile, their self-made label
Office Records has gone on to
record for other Urbana-Champaign
bands. Just recently, in fact, they
released a cassette compilation of
many artists in their area, titled
Better Than God.
But The Arms of Someone New
has a distinctive sound in addition
to an interesting background.
Echoed vocals and helodic
keyboards combine to form a rather
"damp" texture, atmospheric but
not necessarily depressing. On first
listen their songs aren't likely to
grab you, but they are unforgettably
unsettling in a gentle way. The
effect is quite mystic, but brought
back to earth by electric guitar lines
which rise out of the deeper musical
Love, Power & Justice
finds Jones and Eberle in fine form
after last year's highly successful
LP, Susan Sleepwalking. The
recording itself is somewhat crisper,
a touch less homemade sounding.
although they managed just fine
under their limited conditions. I'm
not sure exactly how much the
additional musicians have
contributed to this cassette (other
than playing their instruments), the
most credited of which is Nick
Rudd (who appeared on the last
record)- but this new batch often
sounds just a little fuller.
"Hollywood" probably packs more
punch than just about anything
they've done in the past. The
music is fast and tight, making an
exciting rhythmical leap on the
chorus, which also features some
eerie, mumbled vocals.
"Your Evening at Home" is a
truly dazzling piece. A simple
keyboard melody takes on a
humming quality with a soft,:
lilting guitar and caressing vocal
harmonies. As with many of the
other songs the lyrics don't stand
out on their own, mostly due to the
lack of a strong, stagey vocalist.
An intent listener could no doubt
decipher the words, but one never
feels the need to; bits and fragments
of phrases creep in here and there,
all contributing to the stronger
presence of the music.
This atmospheric focus is what
makes TAOSN so successful;
however, here and there they fall a
bit short. "Believe Me" suffers
from pushy keyboards which aim
for a lot of action, but don't really
get anywhere. And "Next Year in
Jerusalem" drags a drop, ending up
like a subdued Orchestral
Manoeuvres in the Dark.
Shortcomings like these are
easily overlooked. They are more
than balanced by the stronger
tracks, especially the wonderfully
eerie "No City Fun," where the
singer flatly tells of the mundane,
yet frightening events of the city
over a pulsing, underwater-sounding
TAOSN is a unique musical
endeavor which should not be
overlooked. Of course, they will
continue to be passed over in a
world of boring, safe, and
hopelessly tepid top fourty. But for
listeners who can appreciate the
meaning of the word 'serendipity,'
I'd advise writing to Office Records,
P.O. Box 2081 Station A,
Champaign, Illinois 61820. Or
keep your noses in the bins of
Schoolkids' and hope the record is
< TRW Inc. 1986. TRW is the
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