PUZZLING CASE

A DOCTOR DIAGNOSES HIS LIFE IN ROBERTSON DAVIES' NEW NOVEL

ROBERTSON DAVIES' NEW NOVEL opens with a mystery: an elderly priest of the Anglican Church of Canada drops dead during a particularly dramatic moment in the Good Friday services. Very near its end, The Cunning Man (Viking; 469 pages; $23.95) provides an explanation for this long-ago demise, although it is doubtful that any reader simply intent on finding out whodunit will still be turning these pages. The overriding appeal of a Davies book, as his legion of fans will attest, rarely rides on something as mundane as suspense. Instead, Canada's foremost living author, now 81, entertains with an old-fashioned fictional mixture...

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