2 out of 4 stars
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The Guardian of Deceit tells the story of Darwin, a teenager who goes to live with Luther, a distant relative who is a celebrity footballer, following the death of his parents. Darwin finds himself having to make his own way, earning tips from running errands, despite his family's huge wealth. Darwin makes a strong connection with the wealthy Malverne family, having been befriended by Dr Malverne, who supports Darwin's ambitions to pursue a career in medicine. We see Darwin forging relationships with the various people surrounding Luther, including Darwin's granny, the security guard and Luther's girlfriend. The book examines the changing nature of Darwin's relationships as he matures including, ultimately, his marriage.
This is a light and fairly pacy read with an interesting, sympathetic main character; Darwin is a wry observer of social absurdities and is undaunted by the challenges thrown in his path. I found myself wanting to know how life would turn out for Darwin, and hoping that he would prevail. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Darwin developed different kinds of relationships with the women in his life - from a physical encounter with an attractive tutor, a protective relationship with his vulnerable sister-in-law, and finally a slow-burn relationship with the woman who was to become his future wife.
I have given Guardian of Deceit a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. Unfortunately there were aspects of the story which at worst lacked credibility or at best were inadequately explained - for example the lack of reaction to Helen Malverne lending thousands of pounds to her friend Betsy. There were also too many plot lines which could have been further explored - for example the alleged cheating by Luther, the gambling losses, Luther's apparently brutal treatment of women, or even the motivation behind the deliberate attack on the boat.
Furthermore, the mysterious disappearance of the young swimmer, Betsy, does not feel entirely connected to the central plot line. Specifically, it felt as if Betsy's fate had no real or lasting impact on any of the main characters and was therefore not integral to the story.
Given that the author had chosen to include two characters who were famous in the worlds of football and music, there could have been more insights into the unique lifestyle of the global celebrity.
This book will appeal to the young adult audience, who will enjoy the coming of age story as told by Darwin.
Guardian of Deceit
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