A distinct departure from his popular comic novels, this haunting, provocative tale of wrongful imprisonment and violent retribution is Stephen Fry’s first thriller. A brilliant recasting of the classic story The Count of Monte Cristo, Revenge crackles with the wit and intelligence readers have come to expect from this hugely talented author, actor, and comedian, yet it reveals an intriguingly deep, much darker side of his imagination.
Ned Maddstone is a happy, charismatic Oxford-bound seventeen-year-old whose rosy future is virtually preordained. Handsome, confident, and talented, newly in love with bright, beautiful Portia, his father an influential MP, Ned enjoys an existence of boundless opportunity. But privilege makes him an easy target for envy, and in the course of one day Ned’s charmed life is changed forever. A promise made to a dying teacher combined with a prank devised by a jealous classmate mutates bewilderingly into a case of mistaken arrest and incarceration. Drugged and disoriented, Ned finds himself a political prisoner in a nightmarish, harrowing exile, far from home and lost to those he loves. Years pass before an apparently mad, obviously brilliant fellow inmate reawakens the younger man’s intellect and resurrects his will to live. The chilling consequences of Ned’s recovery are felt worldwide.
While Revenge breaks new ground with its taut plotting, exhilarating pace, and underlying air of menace, its sophistication and irreverent humor are vintage Fry—a gloriously rich mix that only he could deliver. His first novel in four years is a dramatic, powerful tour de force that is sure to enlarge the American audience for this singularly talented author’s work.
A tinted review in adult Forecasts indicates a book that's of exceptional importance to our readers, but hasn't received a starred or boxed review.REVENGEStephen Fry. Random, (320p) Fry is a well-known British comic actor (he was the detective in Gosford Park) who has written several comic novels that are sometimes extremely funny, sometimes simply outrageous and over the top. In this, his first attempt at a serious thriller, he begins well, but ends up going over the top again in a different way. His hero, Ned Maddstone, is a delightful young man, gifted but diffident in that special English way, and very much in love. By an extraordinary set of coincidences, a trap set for him by envious schoolmates and a rival in love combines with an explosive secret in the life of a powerful British security official to send Ned off to perdition in a sinister sanatorium on a Baltic island where, forgotten to the world, he is exiled for nearly 20 years while his personality disintegrates. A meeting with another lost soul rebuilds his brain and will to live and inspires an escape; whereupon a very different Ned is loosed upon the world, a man of mystery and infinite wealth whose only aim is to fetch death and disaster on those who brought him down as a youth. Fry achieves some gripping scenes, and Ned, until his ultimate turnaround, remains endearing and believable. After that the novel becomes a highly schematic bloodbath, and some rather glib philosophizing about privacy and the Internet cannot make the final scenes seem other than heavily portentous. Fry is a writer of real talent and ideas, but needs a stern editor to save him from his excesses which on the screen would be called overacting. .