Books: In the Shadow of Death

The Blind Assassin weaves a sinuous tale of family secrets, social change and the power of storytelling

At first blush, Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin (Doubleday; 521 pages; $26) seems determined to get its plot told telegraphically, chiefly through a series of newspaper clippings. A 1945 story reports on the death of Laura Chase, 25, who somehow drove a car off a Toronto bridge. An item two years later reveals the discovery of the body of Richard E. Griffen, 47, a prominent Canadian industrialist found dead of an apparent cerebral hemorrhage in the cabin of his sailboat. Then comes a fast-forward to 1975 and a note on the death of Aimee Griffen, 38, of a broken neck after...

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