The Light of Day: A Novel
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On the anniversary of a life-shattering event, George Webb, a former policeman turned private detective, revisits the catastrophes of his past and reaffirms the extraordinary direction of his future. Two years before, an assignment to follow a strayed husband and his mistress appeared simple enough, but this routine job left George a transformed man.
Suspenseful, moving, and hailed by critics as a detective story unlike any other, The Light of Day is a gripping tale of murder and redemption, as well as a bold exploration of love and self-discovery. This powerful novel signals yet another groundbreaking achievement from Graham Swift, the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel Last Orders.
(we know this). Rita—my assistant, my associate, my partner, or not-quite partner. Her job description has never exactly been set in stone. But I wouldn’t dream of calling her my receptionist (though she is that too) or even my secretary. “Be an angel, Reet.” “I am an angel, George.” Where would I be without her? But she’s going to leave me, I can tell. One morning like this one: she won’t bring in a mug of her own and she won’t put down the bundle of files, she’ll keep it hugged tight to
like some great glistening slide. A head teacher now, of course. Up there on the platform at assembly, addressing the little sparkling faces on this sparkling day. Sometimes I think she can see me—she’s watching over me—like I imagine she must imagine I can see her. It’s a right, an ability we both have, by virtue of having been together, once, for so long. Watching me slide. It’s nonsense of course. She can’t see me. Even Sarah can’t see me. Though that’s different: I try to lift Sarah from
kids, kids without their mums, minded by someone else. Some nods, quick smiles. By and large, we’re a silent bunch—except for the kids. We haven’t come to meet each other, and it’s only by accident that we look like some special, picked group, a chosen few. The high brick wall rears above us. There’s a hunching of shoulders, a shifting of feet—an impatience, to be let into a prison. But while we shiver in the shadows, the brickwork up above glows like the crust of a just-baked loaf. For the sun
brow, tight as a question-mark. She stares into my face. At the same time there’s a sort of shame in her eyes, a shy twist at the corner of her mouth, as if she’s saying, I know this is absurd, George, I know I’m being silly, but— And maybe she’s thinking, like I’m thinking: this is how it was two years ago. Me with my mission, her waiting to be told. What can I say? There isn’t any message, I’m not his messenger. I’m just your visitor, like any other day. “It all looked—good. It all
dress. It was nearly eight perhaps by then. She came back downstairs. Now all her agony had condensed into a single minor uncertainty: when would she hear the car, his step? The key in the door. She knew it might be a while. Traffic. A weekday night. Heathrow to Wimbledon, it can take longer than you think. She knew she might need this last scrap of patience. In the hallway, by the window, she’d have checked that the porch light, the light over the garage and the little low lights at the