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Aiding and Abetting

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  963 Ratings  ·  152 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
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 12th 2002 by Anchor (first published 2000)
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Dhanaraj Rajan
One of the Spark's books which is not that Sparkian. And so, I was bit disappointed.

It was racy and at times witty. Yet, something was missing.

The climax was a let down. Or at least, that was my feel. Spark was capable of producing a better one or executing the present climax in a livelier way. spark must have been in a hurry to finish the work.

I look for Catholic/Christian themes and discussions in every Spark book. I think, this book had such themes in a suggestive manner. And they could very
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Delightfully wicked humor: classic Spark. Fictional literary treatment of two legendary criminals, a fraud and a murderer, who really existed and somehow disappeared.
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
Courtney H.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
The two books I've read by Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Driver's Seat, were wonderfully tight and hard-hitting short novels. Even though this book is a slim 176 pages, it feels like a sprawling, unfocused tale that can't decide what it's trying to say. No one ever talks about Spark's later work (this is her second to last published book, from 2000), and this may be why.
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
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,
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Книжка, як то кажуть, на любителя, ще й переклад від пана з невимовним прізвищем не надто сподобався. Хоча й коротка, а знудила мене добряче.
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A delightful comic novella. Using an actual murder case as her jumping-off point, Muriel Spark posits what might have happened to the 7th Earl of Lucan after his disappearance in 1974. While she sticks to the historical record for details pre-1974, from the point of his disappearance on, it's all outrageous conjecture, in which an artisan who refurbishes antiques teams up with a false stigmatic-turned-psychiatrist, a physician from Africa, an old friend of the murderer and the daughter of one of ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A very light, farcical novella, based on a true event. In 1974 in England, Lord Lucan murdered the nanny of his children and viciously attacked his wife. He then disappeared, never to be heard of again. Spark weaves a tale around Lord Lucan and his 'double' trying to blackmail a psychiatrist in Paris in the late 1990s. They have learned that the psychiatrist had committed fraud in Germany when she was younger. If you have not read any Muriel Spark novels, then firstly try The Prime of Miss Jean ...more
Marie (UK)
how might Lord Lucan have got away after murdering his nanny and attempting to murder his wife. Muriel Spark gives us one take on it . Her characters are huge and the storyline succinct. A great read
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
it spins tightly, with the charming Spark cyclicality, and has some simply zinging observations. she knows how to pick a story but wasn’t as acrobatically inventive with her treatment of the mystery of Lord Lucan. still & all? a total master, & worth reading to get the full lay of her lands.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
so, yes, the satire, the humor, the dry observation of class defined social mores are certainly out in spades, and though the mystery that wasn't is rather amusing, I think this novella could've been even shorter! I found the repetitive parts really hamstrung the narrative flow. Still a fun read.
Karen Sofarin
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Short and to the point. Rather interesting despite the gore and disjointed style. Layers of secrets and lies are so often intriguing.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Історія не сподобалася і не залишила після себе жодних позитивних вражень.
There's a pinch of Greene, a generous dash of Waugh, and a lot of Spark in this short novel. Highly entertaining.
Mar 15, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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,
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
tortoise dreams
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
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Well, that was an exercise in pointlessness.

A very short book (thankfully), "Aiding and Abetting" is about a fraudulent psychiatrist who finds herself treating two men who both claim to be Lord Lucan. She tries to find out if one of them is the right one, a plot element that never gets beyond being an opportunity to tell us the psychiatrist's past as a fraud and is then abandoned by the narrative shifting to the two Lucans and actually telling us all about them and their past. Then there's a gir
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
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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
More about Muriel Spark...
“She wasn't a person to whom things happen. She did all the happenings.” 1759 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.” 2 likes
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