Books: The Mysteries Of Loss

William Trevor's artful novel Death in Summer traces the aftermaths of a random accident

Life offers such a grim plenitude of fatal accidents, of deaths visited on the undeserving without discernible pattern or purpose, that serious fiction, as opposed to mysteries and thrillers, tends to shun or downplay such events. Writers and readers alike expect stories to make sense, after all, and random tragedies simply don't. So author William Trevor takes something of a risk when he opens his latest novel, Death in Summer (Viking; 214 pages; $23.95), with a woman riding a bicycle along an English country lane being hit and killed by a car.

She is, or was, Letitia Davenant, wife of Thaddeus...

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