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Aiding and Abetting

3.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  808 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
In Aiding and Abetting, the doyenne of literary satire has written a wickedly amusing and subversive novel around the true-crime case of one of England’s most notorious uppercrust scoundrels and the “aiders and abetters” who kept him on the loose.

When Lord Lucan walks into psychiatrist Hildegard Wolf’s Paris office, there is one problem: she already has a patient who says
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published July 31st 2001 by Doubleday (first published 2000)
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Sep 14, 2009 Danielle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
When I saw this book in the library, I had the vague notion that Muriel Spark was one of the names on those "Authors You Should Know" lists, and thus I should probably read something by her. After having finished this book, my feeling is that the name "Muriel Spark" is appealing in and of itself, and that's probably why I remembered it. I was not impressed with her.
I should clarify that the book was fine. I mean, I read the whole thing, and it was fine. If you like light-hearted mysteries, you'd
Jun 16, 2016 Marc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is only the second Muriel Spark book I've read, but I find her writing delightful. Her sense of humor shines darkly. This one starts off with a psychiatrist who first makes her patients listen to her story. And the subtle layering and duplicity of her characters... (sigh)...

Without giving too much away, the story revolves around the true story of an earl who disappears after committing murder and attempted murder (he was aiming for his wife, mistook the nanny for her, then didn't have time
Muriel's dizzy POV on the real-life murder of a nanny by UKs Lord Lucan, who intended to kill his wife. Spark backs herself into a corner and doesn't know how to get out. The result is some Waughish cannibalism. It serves Lucan (or his double) right for having a Good Time.
I'm planning a trip to Scotland in the not-so-distant future and so I thought it would be a good time to familiarize myself with the work of Muriel Spark. I gather from the little I've read about Ms. Spark thus far that Aiding and Abetting is not one of her more “important” works, but as a slim volume of truly imaginative, satirical, and irreverent fun, I think it really holds up. For a work of less than 200 pages, there's just an incredible amount of plot—three equally creative and crazily spir ...more
Jan 13, 2011 Tony rated it it was amazing
Spark, Muriel. AIDING AND ABETTING. (2001). *****. I’m a rabid Spark fan, so I don’t know how I missed this one – but I did. It is a short novel that embodies all of Dame Spark’s greatest qualities: subtle humor, attention to plot movement, and, most of all, characterization. She has done a take-off on a true crime that occurred in England in the 1970s, where Lord Lucan accidentally murdered his childrens’ nanny while actually trying to kill his wife. He subsequently disappeared from England, pr ...more
Courtney H.
If I had reviewed this book right away, I probably would have given it four stars. It was concise, well written novel with a fascinating premise. Spark took two late-twentieth century legends -- the scandal surrounding the disappearance of Lord Lucan after he murdered his children's nanny and attempted to murder his wife; and a fake stigmata -- and wove them together in a bizarre dark comedy mystery novel, set 25 years after Lucan's disappearance. It lost a star because it proved to be surprisin ...more
Jayme Herschkopf
I read this book with a group of friends, and we agreed that it was entertaining and well written. It only gets three stars, though, because it's largely forgettable. It raises some interesting questions in terms of characters' motivations, as well as some moral questions for the reader. Overall, I'd say this is a diverting read but not terribly deep. In addition, I found the ending problematic, but can separate the last 10 pages from the book as a whole.

Also, I confess that as the daughter and
Aug 25, 2011 Jinky rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I'm not sure what it is about based on true story books that captures my interest. This one certainly pushed my curiosity button. Nothing like murder and on the run to get the ball rolling ... by the 7th Earl of Lucan no less! His unsolved mysterious disappearance made for the perfect base for imaginative minds to explore and so it was for Ms Spark, I assume. And what a tale! I found this to be quite entertaining and odd take. The mind games was definitely present. I especially enjoyed all
Jul 24, 2009 bookczuk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing, ho-hum
Given to me by my Jojosmommyo with the firm endorsement of "Meh". She went on to mention that Hazrabai has read it and hadn't thought that much of it, as well. Not Spark's best effort. I can only concur with my two wise sister-in-laws.

Spark is usually a winner. Crisp, clean, funny, clever. The premise of this, particularly, is good, since it is based on the real life mystery of what the heck happened to the 7th Earl of Lucan (aka "Lucky" Lucan? Add in an imposter and a fake Bavarian stigmatic,
Jan 03, 2016 Virginia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found Momento Mori entertaining enough so thought I'd try another Spark, now I wish I hadn't. The plot is paper thin and it's resolution is farcical - not in a good way.
The idea of a psychiatrist presented with two patients claiming to be Lucan and the resolution of that puzzle would be quite fascinating. Unfortunately after setting up the mystery, Spark tells us the answer almost immediately, and then diverts into subplots of the false stigmatic, and the daughter of the old friend who is pur
Mar 15, 2014 Sindhu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aiding and Abetting is the story of a man on the run, for the last 25 years or so. Finding inspiration from the real life story of Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, Dame Muriel Spark weaves a psychological mystery. Lord Lucan, the Faustian hero comes to Dr. Hildegard Wolf, a well known psychiatrist in Paris and the novel begins. "I have come to consult you, because I have no peace of mind. Twenty-five years ago I sold my soul to the Devil." Lucan introduces himself. Why did he choose to r ...more
La Spark era partita bene ma poi, a metà strada, si è persa.

Il libro vuole raccontare, riempiendo con l'immaginazione quello che nessuno sa per certo, la storia del settimo Conte di Lucan che, nella notte del 4 novembre 1974, uccide per sbaglio la bambinaia di casa invece che la moglie e scappa per non essere arrestato.
La Spark fa cominciare la narrazione a trent'anni di distanza dalla tragedia, raccontando in parallelo la storia di un'altra ricercata, la dottoressa Hildegard, che in gioventù si
tortoise dreams
Apr 19, 2016 tortoise dreams rated it liked it
Two patients of a psychiatrist each claim to be an aristocrat who 25 years earlier killed his children's nanny and attempted to kill his wife; the psychiatrist too has a secret from a previous life, which the patients threaten to expose. The game is afoot!

Aiding and Abetting was written when Muriel Spark was 82, and here she still retains much of the spark that made her great, writing a comedic mystery adventure that addresses the moral ambiguity of the characters' actions. The book, partially
Aug 01, 2012 Daniel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not care for this story. The characters are thin and the plot of moderate interest. Spark's prose is fabulous, and this sole strength kept me reading.

This experience makes me anxious about Spark's other late-20C works. I loved "Bachelors," and I still think about it months after putting it up. Both this and "Driver," however, didn't do much for me. I hope that her work does not follow a downward trend with later publication dates.
Malin James
I wish I could give Aiding and Abetting 3.5 stars but since I'm not allowed halves, I erring on the side of 3, but only because, as much as I loved reading it, I suspect it's not going to stay with me very long. Muriel Spark is always a treat to read - her prose is so gorgeously rhythmic, lean and biting, I tend to alternate between smirking, smiling and grinning as I read her. Aiding and Abetting was very much this kind of experience, even more so than usual because Spark's lack of sentimentali ...more
Mar 13, 2007 Rosie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crisp, wickedly morbid prose. Why isn't Spark recognized as a great novelist? A bookseller once asked me if I thought it was because she was a woman. An interesting thought. I am not sure. I only know that longer does not equal better and that Spark's slender volumes are delicious.
I didn't care much for this one. The plot, the characters were blah; I think the writer herself was fed up with the story and just ended it without real resolve. But the prose is strong and superbly executed, enough to keep me reading. I like Ms. Spark's writing style, there is a great deal she can teach would be writers, but I didn't enjoy this book very much.

Lucky Lucan, Walker Lucan, Beate Pappenheim/Dr. Hildegard Wolfe, Jean-Pierre Roget, Lacey & Mr. Joe Murray.

Some noteworthy quotes fr
Sally Flint
Nov 25, 2015 Sally Flint rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
Absurd, whimsical, in part witty, unbelievable and full of half coincidences. This book is half comedy and half satire, poking fun at the morality (lack of) of the upper classes, who despite their wealth are capable of committing the most wicked of crimes. The plot evolves around a fake pyschiatrist, who used to be a fake healer, who comes into contact with a famous killer (I think it is a real case) and an imposter who also claims to be him. It's quite confusing to follow and I can't say I enjo ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Stacia rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, europe
This is an odd, somewhat intriguing book. Interesting premise & unexpected conclusion, imo. For some reason, I've had Muriel Spark on my radar for awhile as an author I might really enjoy. I tried her book The Ballad of Peckham Rye a year or two ago but couldn't get into it. I tried this one because it was sitting on the shelf at the library. Not sure that I'm a Spark fan so far, but am willing to give her one more try. (I think my library has a copy of Memento Mori.)
Muriel Spark's most renown work, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, has nothing on this. Then again, I did not like it very much...

Aiding & Abetting is based on the true story that took place in 1970s England. The seventh Earl Lord Lucan vanished into hiding after trying to murder his wife (following a child custody case), only to have murdered the nanny instead. In the real life case, there was much speculation as to his whereabouts in the years that followed; with no verified identifications,
Jan 28, 2014 Carin rated it liked it
This is an odd book. It's short and sharp, which both are great attributes and which both are very Muriel Spark. But it's unusual.

Two men separately start seeing a psychiatrist in Paris, Dr. Wolf. They both claim to be Lord Lucan, who murdered his nanny and nearly murdered his wife in London in the 1970s and escaped. They try to blackmail Dr. Wolf by revealing that she is really Beate Pappenheim, a German fake stigmatic who defrauded hundreds of people and is also on the run. Meanwhile, the daug
Spark has written this fictitious perspective about a heinous crime that occurred in England in 1976. One does not have to read very far into the novel to discern the biting commentary on the upper class in England, which pervades the novel. Beyond this, however, are mysteries within mysteries; people are seldom what you originally think them to be, and there are unexpected connections among them. As in the previous novel I reviewed, Spark poses great questions to her characters and thus, to her ...more
Jan 21, 2010 Yofish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-on-tape
Sort of based on a true story. There was a lord who tried to kill his wife, ended up killing the nanny instead, and only wounding the wife. He disappears. This story has him in hiding for years, helped by friends. We mostly follow a psychiatrist who has two patients claiming to be the lord. One is, and the other is someone hired by the lord to look like him, and help him out in general. They know that the psychiatrist is sort of a fraud---she herself is in hiding, as she used to pretend to bleed ...more
Tim Poston
Mar 21, 2015 Tim Poston rated it it was amazing
The murderous disappearance of Lord Lucan created huge and long-lasting coverage in the aristocracy-snobbish part of the press (i.e., most of it). I'm too much of an intellectual snob to have read any of that, but when Muriel Spark looks at anything, it is always worth joining her unique view of it.
She makes even the idiot Earl interesting, and her psychiatrist ... wow.

I believe that Muriel Spark could make even cricket fascinating.
Very funny in parts, let down by the bizarrely dated ending for a book written in 2000. It's also disappointing after how insightful the book was on how Britain's changed since the 1970s to have an ending which would have been old-hat in the 1960s.

(view spoiler)
Oct 27, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I love Spark but I admit that this isn't one of her best. Still, a sub-par Spark is better than many other author's best work. If you like her irreverent style then you will probably enjoy this black comedy about the true crime case of Lord who killed his nanny by accident when meaning to kill his wife, the man he hires to act as his double, and the psychiatrist they both start seeing professionally while blackmailing.
Jan 23, 2015 CamiBlue rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Even though it was pretty entertaining, it was also pretty dissapointing on the overall. How come such a great story like Lucan's crime and escape was told adding peripheral elements that made it a completely bald story? For what I had read before, Spark is a great narrator, but definitely the novel didn't work for me. It was just a bunch of anecdotes and flat characters that got together out of absurd coincidences. I'm going to read Memento Mori, though, to give Spark a last chance.
Nov 24, 2014 Yellowoasis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A nicely wicked story about a psychiatrist with a dodgy past who has a new patient claiming to be Lord Lucan. Problem is, she already has a client who calls himself Lord Lucan. Which one is the real one, and what does he want from her? A delicate cat-and-mouse game ensues. I wish this short book had been developed into something longer, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
Picked this up after seeing several reviews of the new Spark biography. It's brevity was appealing (was actually able to read the read the whole thing in one sitting.) Can honestly say I've never read a novel quite like this. Hard to describe. Satire. Brutally funny satire. (Literally) Malicious undercurrent. Sometimes overcurrent. Delightful element of farce. Spark's ability to do so much with so few words is a nice contrast to the Dostoyevesky. And I hear she has shelves full of other short no ...more
Jan 24, 2015 joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This felt like a bit of a mis-fire.. like the author didn't know what to do with her characters - she'd discovered them but they weren't quite performing properly.
That said, their refusal to behave and fall into line was somehow appropriate, since they were all liars, elusive, imposters..
So here's an author who has interesting failures.
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Dame Muriel Spark, DBE was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Spark received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the Ingersoll Foundation TS Eli
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“She wasn't a person to whom things happen. She did all the happenings.” 1749 likes
“People who want to write books do so because they feel it to be the easiest thing they can do. They can read and write, they can afford any of the instruments of book writing such as pens, paper, computers, tape recorders, and generally by the time they have reached this decision, they have had a simple education.” 1 likes
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