Sunday, 2 April 2017

‘THE MASTER STROKE’ BY ELIZABETH GAGE


 
Why not focus yet again on an Elizabeth Gage novel, sweet readers, like her third outing THE MASTER STROKE (Pocket Books, 1992) which, by the way, has nothing to do with Picasso or the likes (that would be INTIMATE, her latter work). Indeed, this time it’s the birth of the computer that dominates this energic tale of passion and revenge which starts in the mid-50s and ends up around the early ‘60s. Computers, really?! But don’t be fooled. If anyone could make an unsexy and bland topic riveting it certainly is Elizabeth Gage. The way her story unfolds—with her rich narrative, well-defined characterization and her astute chapter hooks—can only put THE MASTER STROKE in a class of its own. 

Of course the novel has its faults. Her provocative heroine may be an electronics genius but what an idiot she is at romance. In fact, all of Gage's characters stink at love. And boy does she make them suffer for it. From incest to rape to murder, THE MASTER STROKE screams of clichés, yet with her skillful ways Gage succeeds in making this a powerful experience. Yes, good prevails over evil in the end, but the path to there is one heck of a ride, I’m telling you. 

Or am I just biased because it’s a Gage? The truth of the matter is I doubt it. I’ve been around this block too much to be clueless about that simple fact. So does THE MASTER STROKE make it Gage’s strongest book?  Not by a long shot. That would be her debut classic A GLIMPSE OF STOCKING. But compared to many novels of the same era it is certainly a strong one. I doubt you’ll be bored by it— again even with a topic as mundane as this one. It just proves to you that Elizabeth Gage could make anything fun, even her grocery list. 

 

Until next post—Martin
UK edition

 

 

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