By D.A. Ball
February 10, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

Betrayals

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  • Book

The book is less a whodunit than a what-the-heck’s-going-on, but Charles Palliser’s brilliance almost matches his self-indulgence in this convolution of slyly-related Scottish murder mysteries, Betrayals. Ultimately, though, the only real mystery is what clever literary game Palliser is playing. Some readers will quit long before they find out, but the rarefied will keep going for the sake of the author’s wit, skill, and pyrotechnics. An obituary, tales told by snowbound travelers, a succession of narratives, diaries, TV shows, a book review more or less about this very book, and stories within stories all provide an orgy of crime clues that add up to postmodernism gone off the deep end. Jack the Ripper, homicidal scientists and writers, plagiarism, life imitating art and vice versa and vice versa again, other slashers, primitive tribes, dismemberment of the living, scorpions…it’s all a diabolically gruesome crossword puzzle with a plot. B+

Betrayals

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