Stephen Fry is the author of three previous novels and a memoir. As an actor he has been featured in numerous films, including Gosford Park, A Civil Action, and Wilde, in which he played the title role, and in such popular English TV series as Jeeves and Wooster, Black Adder, and A Bit of Fry and Laurie. He lives in London.
In his first novel in four years, Fry leaves comedy behind to craft a thriller featuring hapless Eton graduate Ned Maddstone, who is wrongly imprisoned in a secret prison where MI-5 dumps spies. Decades pass before he is able to figure out what has happened and plot revenge. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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. (July 23). Forecast: Those who enjoyed Fry's lighter previous work will be hardly expecting something so dark and violent, and it may prove difficult to orchestrate a new readership. Pairing it with the movie tie-in to The Count of Monte Cristo may help the book find its proper audience. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"[Fry] has once again proven that he is an entertainer of the very first rank." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"It's an old story...but Fry...has the wit and erudition to make it run like a well-made pocket watch. Be warned: the vengeance promised by the title has an unabashedly nasty flavor that's distinctly British and quite refreshing."--Newsweek "In his first attempt at thriller writing, British actor-novelist Stephen Fry doesn't stumble at all....Revenge is sweet." --People "A brisk thriller...smooth, clever, bittersweet, and dramatically entertaining." --The Seattle Times