Cover image for The high flyer
The high flyer
Howatch, Susan.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred Knopf, 2000.

Physical Description:
500 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Clarence Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Concord Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Lackawanna Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Lancaster Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Carter Graham is a successful, financially secure London lawyer in her mid-thirties, a partner in her firm. She has the perfect clothes, the perfect car, the perfect apartment and, as of a few months ago, the perfect husband. She is perfectly on track, exactly where she hoped to be at this point in her life. Except that reality is about to change her course. Carter slowly begins to learn that her husband, Kim, is not what he seems. People from his past hint at a serious involvement in the occult and at a connection between his family and the Nazis. Carter has a disturbing encounter with the "psychic healer" who warned Kim against their marriage; and, even more alarming, with what seems to be the ghost of Kim's ex-wife, recently deceased in a suspicious accident. Kim grows more and more cagey in his explanations for his increasingly devious behavior. Bit by bit, everything Carter thought she knew about him--and about herself--is called into question. Her world shattering--is she going mad?--Carter plunges into a darkness and terror she has never known before. In desperation, pushing past her long-held scepticism, she seeks shelter and help at St. Benet's Healing Centre. Now, with the aid of the people who run the Centre--Father Nicholas Darrow, a mysteriously alluring healer; Father Lewis Hall, Darrow's down-to-earth counterpart; Alice, the magnificent cook and all-round angel of mercy; and Tucker, a lay worker whose interest in helping Carter is both altruistic and deeply personal--Carter begins a psychological and spiritual journey that will bring her to a startling understanding of Kim and, more important, of her own life, past and future. Following in the tradition she has so brilliantly made her own, Susan Howatch once again gives us a novel that weaves together the ecclesiastical and the earthly in an electrifying, masterfully told story.

Author Notes

Susan Howatch was born on July 14, 1940 in England. She graduated from the University of London in 1961 and served as a law clerk and secretary in the early 1960s before becoming a full-time writer. She writes in a variety of genres, including mystery, romance, and historical fiction. Her books include The Dark Shore, April's Grave, Penmarric, and the six-volume Starbridge series.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Carter Graham is a '90s woman, a "high flyer" with a partnership in a London law firm, a new red Porsche, and a fashionable apartment. Kim Betz, who seems to be exactly the successful, mature mate she has planned to find and marry at age 35, completes the picture, but things quickly turn strange when Kim's ex-wife, Sophie, repeatedly attempts to contact Carter, both before and after her marriage to Kim. Sophie eventually corners Carter in a supermarket to warn her that Kim is involved in the occult and with a mysterious woman named Mrs. Mayfield. When Carter broaches the subject with Kim, he spins a labyrinthine web of lies and deceit, gradually revealing secrets involving sex, blackmail, and a Nazi background. Sophie turns up dead, and Carter, fearing both her husband and his associate, seeks refuge with sexy genre novelist Tucker, who had temporarily been her office assistant, in the rectory where he lives with his brother, a gay pastor. An adamant atheist, Carter goes through emotional hell as she faces up to Kim's shortcomings and the powers of evil manifest in Mrs. Mayfield. She is dragged kicking and screaming into a spiritual rebirth, eventually accepting Christianity and changing her life. Howatch reaches deep into the human psyche as she explores the conflict between good and evil and the human need for spirituality. --Diana Tixier Herald

Publisher's Weekly Review

Devoted readers of Howatch's Starbridge series (Glamorous Powers; Glittering Images; Absolute Truths) will be delighted to encounter recurring characters Nicholas Darrow and Lewis Hall in her new psychological-spiritual thriller. Darrow and Hall call upon their ecclesiastical, paranormal and New Age therapeutic expertise in healing damaged souls when success-driven London lawyer Carter Graham is suddenly confronted with phenomena that test the coping abilities of her liberated, modern mind. The quintessential "high flyer," Carter has broken through the glass ceiling and become a partner in the prestigious law firm of Curtis, Towers. Recently married to Kim Betz, a handsome banker almost 15 years her senior, Carter lives in the "right" apartment complex, drives a Porsche and is thinking of having a baby. However, Kim's hidden past (involvement with Nazis, the occult, group sex and an unsavory psychic healer named Mrs. Mayfield) threatens Carter's carefully orchestrated life plan. The mysterious death of Kim's ex-wife and the vision of her ghost send Carter to the edge of sanity and force her to confront demons from her past that she has successfully avoided until now. Two-thirds into the book, the pace of the narrative slows down so the spiritual experts can expound their modern dogma, but it soon hurtles the reader toward a tepid conclusion. In spite of these lulls, the work is entertaining and intellectually stimulating, providing copious amounts of information supporting links between ESP, psychology and modern religious thought. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A successful lawyer in her early thirties seeks the help of the charismatic minister at St. Benet's Healing Center when she discovers that her new husband has a secret past involving the occult and Nazism. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One When I first saw my temporary secretary it never occurred to me to flirt with him. Even in 1990, when suing for sexual harassment was still considered to be primarily an American activity, an office flirtation would have been considered unwise for a high flyer, and besides, this particular male hardly struck me as being irresistible. He had curly hair, chocolate-coloured eyes and a chunky, cherubic look. My taste in men has never encompassed overgrown choirboys. Walking into my office I found him stooped over my computer, and since I was not expecting a male secretary I assumed he was someone from the maintenance department. I did notice that he was dressed as an office drone in a grey suit, drab tie and white shirt, but maintenance men often resembled office drones these days; it was a side-effect of the technological revolution. Abruptly I demanded: "What's the problem?" and added for good measure: "Who the hell are you?" I always feel irritable on Monday mornings. He glanced up, decided I was just another dumb blonde hired to massage a keyboard and made the big mistake of adopting a patronising manner. "Relax, sweet pea," he said casually, "I'm the temp from PersonPower International! I've been assigned for two weeks to Mr. Carter Graham." I dropped my bag on the visitor's chair, folded my arms across my chest and dug my high heels into the carpet. Then I said in a voice designed to bend nails: "I'm Carter Graham." The man jumped as if stung by a bee, and as his head jerked up I realised that his square jaw was incompatible with the choirboy image. "I beg your pardon, ma'am," he said at once. "I must have misunderstood the lady in personnel who directed me here." "The lady in personnel must be suffering from amnesia. She knows I only work with female temps." "I'm sorry to hear that, ma'am, but let me reassure you by saying -- " "You're gay." "No, but I can do everything women and gays can do with computers, and I've even taken a course in DTP." I saw no reason to put up a front by pretending to know what this latest technological time-waster was. "DTP?" "Desk-Top Publishing, ma'am." "I don't approve of dubious activities taking place on a desk-top. Are you seriously -- seriously -- trying to tell me that PersonPower International have had the nerve to send a heterosexual white Anglo-Saxon male to work in my office?" "Maybe they see it as their contribution to multiculturalism, ma'am." Worried about my ability to keep a straight face I turned aside, tramped to the window and stared at the crowded street four floors below. Only after I had carefully counted to ten did I swing back to face him and say: "All right, so be it. Welcome to Curtis, Towers." "Thank you, ma'am." "But now you listen to me, and you listen well. This is a first-names office but you and I are going to use surnames for the duration of your time here. I'm not having all those hormones and pheromones stimulated by any pseuds'-corner office intimacy." "In that case would you care to be addressed as Miss Graham, Mrs. Graham or Ms. Graham?" "Well, I certainly didn't go through a wedding ceremony only to be called 'Miss' at the end of it, and I'm not Mrs. Graham, I'm Mrs. Betz. But my marital status is hardly your concern." "Right, Ms. Graham." "And your name is -- " "Eric Tucker." "Okay, Tucker, get me unsugared coffee, black as pitch and strong enough to make an elephant levitate. Then we'll start to flay the fax till it screams for mercy." He never asked where the coffee machine was or where he could make coffee or whether he would be able to obtain a takeaway from the cafeteria. He just responded smartly: "Yes, ma'am," and zipped out of the room. That impressed me. But I also heard the note of amusement in his voice and knew I was not the only one who had played the scene poker-faced but tongue-in-cheek. That alarmed me. Sharing the same sense of humour can be a snare in an office setting. Humour leads to intimacy which leads to loss of detachment which leads to bad judgement which leads to a mess. I resolved to be on my guard. I wished he were much younger than I was, but I thought he too was probably in his mid-thirties. Younger men were easier to muzzle and keep on a short leash; younger men were less likely to think a woman's place was not in the boardroom; younger men were easier to intimidate, control and organise. But this smooth-talking item was not a younger man. Nor, I was sure, was he ever again going to remind me of an elderly cherub or an overgrown choirboy. At that point I spent three seconds wondering why he was working as a temporary secretary and three seconds wondering, in the casual way one does with new acquaintances of the opposite sex, what he was like in bed. Then I said to myself impatiently: "Bloody sex! Why are we all so obsessed with it?" and focused my mind instead on the intricate fiscal affairs of my major clients, the Unipax Transworld Corporation. Excerpted from The High Flyer by Susan Howatch All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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