The Altruists by Andrew Ridker - review by John Maier

John Maier

Alter Ego

The Altruists

By

Jonathan Cape 320pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

Like every unhappy family, the Alters can at least claim a little distinctiveness. All three are in fact so distinct as to be practically estranged from one another when we first meet them in Andrew Ridker’s debut novel. Arthur Alter, a small-time academic, and his two adult children, Ethan and Maggie, by turns idiosyncratic and deplorable, are adjusting to the loss of Francine – wife, mother, materfamilias – who has made the best of her untimely death by disinheriting her philandering husband and passing the spoils of a lucrative and secret investment portfolio directly to her children. 

In what turns out to be far from the last desperate act of an increasingly desperate man, Arthur lures his children back to St Louis for the weekend with the aim of extracting enough money from them to save the family home, all the while wearing the ill-fitting mask of

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