When Darwin Hastings’ aunt can no longer take care of the talented young man, whose parents had died in a car accident five years earlier, Darwin’s guardianship reverted to his famous football star cousin, Luther Pinnelli. In William H Coles’ Guardian of Deceit, we first meet Darwin on the flight from Pittsburgh to New York, where he meets Doctor Adrian Malverne who will have a big impact on the young man’s future career and personal life. Staying in a converted storage closet at his cousin’s mansion in the Hamptons, Darwin soon discovers that life with his erratic, drunken and gambling cousin was not going to be an easy one. Nevertheless, Darwin sets out to make his life’s dream of becoming a doctor a reality. Along the way, he will meet and associate with many famous and many dangerous persons, but always manage to keep his dreams and his morals intact.
This is a coming-of-age novel with a bit of a difference, set in the well-to-do world of the Hamptons. I particularly liked Darwin as a character, as despite his obvious academic talents he was well grounded and prepared to work hard for his advancement, regardless of the wealth left to him by his parents and his cousin’s ostentatious lifestyle. He never allowed this to cloud his judgement or his morality, and when the occasion demanded it he was prepared to stand up to authority, for himself and for others, where he perceived injustice. The character of Luther’s wife, famous singer Sweeney Pale, was well drawn and I kept waiting and expecting the big romantic scene with Darwin. In summary, Guardian of Deceit is a study in human relationships and behaviour, a romantic coming-of-age of a gifted young man.