Waking the Dead

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4.00 · 3 ratings · Published: Apr 12th, 1986 {{ book.ratingTitle }}
What wakes the dead in Scott Spencer’s extraordinary new novel—a novel whose core is an explosive amalgam of political ambition, moral passion, and passionate love—is the banked force of its protagonist’s deeply buried desire to be a “good man.”

It is a desire that has long been overwhelmed by his own consuming political ambition: unceasingly, consciously and subconsciously, since boyhood, Fielding Pierce has maneuvered for advantage. It is a desire embodied in the woman he was in love with for five years: the unworldly Sarah, adorable and almost harshly pure of heart—Sarah whose famous death in pursuit of her own uncompromising political ideals Fielding was forced to contemplate in newspaper headlines, even on television. Sarah, a woman so different from the sophisticated and affectionately supportive Juliet—the niece of his powerful political mentor—with whom he lives now.

As we enter his world, Fielding (age thirty-four and on the third rung of the latter that has brought him from Brooklyn to Harvard to the Cook County prosecutor’s office as attorney) is suddenly offered a chance to run for Congress. What happens when—plunging into the political fray, drawing on all his will and instinct for victory, thrilled and terrified—he experiences first a vague presentiment and then an unhinging conviction that Sarah is still alive is told in a novel that moves us, compels us, carries us swiftly over the rapids of its outward and inward drama.

The twists and turns of a tense political contest whose outcome is increasingly in doubt, the deeper tremors engendered by the schism within the heart of the candidate, and the mystery surrounding both Sarah’s fate and the true nature of Fielding’s commitment to his life and his work—all these elements combine to make a novel of intense excitement, the most powerful, complex, and fascinating we have yet had from Scott Spencer.

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