When good-time, fortysomething Molly Lane dies of an unspecified degenerative illness, her many friends and numerous lovers are led to think about their own mortality. Vernon Halliday, editor of the up-market newspaper The Judge, persuades his old friend Clive Linley, a self-indulgent composer of some reputation, to enter into a euthanasia pact with him. Should either of them succumb to such an illness, the other will effect his death. From this point onwards we are in little doubt as to the novel's outcome--it's only a matter of who will kill whom. In the meantime, compromising photographs of Molly's most distinguished lover, foreign secretary Julian Garmony, have found their way into the hands of the press, and as rumours circulate he teeters on the edge of disgrace. However, this is McEwan, so it is no surprise to find that the rather unsavoury Garmony comes out on top. McEwan is master of the writer's craft, and while this is the sort of novel that wins prizes, his characters remain curiously soulless amidst the twists and turns of plot. --Lisa Jardine
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Winner of the Booker Prize
"A dark tour de force, perfectly fashioned."
--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"A well-oiled machine....Ruthless and amusing."
--The New York Times Book Review
"Beautifully spare prose, wicked observation, and dark comic brio."
--The Boston Globe
"At once far-reaching and tightly self-contained, a fin de siécle phantasmagoria."
"Ian McEwan has proven himself to be one of Britain's most distinct voices and one of its most versatile talents....Chilling and darkly comic."
"By far his best work to date...an energizing tightrope between feeling and lack of feeling, between humanity's capacity to support and save and its equally ubiquitous penchant for detachment and cruelty."
--The San Diego Union-Tribune
"You won't find a more enjoyable novel...masterfully wrought, sure to delight a reader with even half a sense of humor." --The Atlant Journal-Constitution
"McEwan writes the sort of witty repartee and scathing retort we wished we thought of in the heat of battle. On a broader scale, McEwan's portrayal of the mutually parasitic relationship between politicians and journalists is as damning as it is comic." --The Christian Science Monitor