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by Barry Maitland
Orion, September 2002
280 pages
16.99 GBP
ISBN: 0752851063

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Barry Maitland, Scottish born, Cambridge trained architect has recently retired from his position of Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. His specialty is urban architecture with special interest in the architecture of shopping malls. His last book, SILVERMEADOW, took place in a giant urban shopping mall, and in it, DS Kathy Kolla was assaulted.

BABEL, written before 9/11, takes place shortly after the end of SILVERMEADOW. Kolla is still on leave, recuperating from the assault, wondering if she really wants to continue in police work. She returns to London from the South Coast and attends a party for Bren Gurney, who has just been promoted to D.I., where she passes out. Back to the South Coast.

Max Springer, a professor of philosophy at the University of East London has been murdered. He had reported threats to the Shadwell Road police station, and his murder happened exactly as he had said, accurate even as to the date it occurred. Springer, although Jewish, had spent time in the refugee camps in the Middle East and was sympathetic to the Arab cause but he had no time for fundamentalists and extremists.

Brock keeps wishing for Kolla's help in this case. There is a missing Muslim girl whose father keeps harassing the police to find her; there is a strange building at the University in which genetic research seems to be funded by oil money from the middle East; there are several kinds of muslims, all living within a small area of the formerly poverty stricken Docklands area, now quickly being yuppified; and there is always the threat of racial harassment being held over the police.

Kathy finally does return to London to help with the case. She can't stay away. And the work helps her heal.

BABEL is an adequate follow up to SILVERMEADOW, but in my opinion, the books in which the architecture, not the people, are most important, are Maitland's best. THE MARX SISTERS, the first in the series. is superb. I thought SILVERMEADOW was also fascinating. However, that is not to denigrate the other 4 books in the series. Read them all. You will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, September 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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