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By Bruce Marshall
A fraud has been committed! Or so, at least, do the directors of Shinto and Dunsmuir’s British and Overseas Banking Corporation have “every reason to believe.” Their belief turns the ordinarily routine event of the annual audit of financial accounts into a tense, even dangerous, investigation for the staff of Cloudridge, Parkinson, Talisman, Steeple and Co. Set in 1930s Paris, against the backdrop of the actual “Stavisky Affair,” The Accounting follows this group of overtaxed auditors, prisoners of their own discontent, as they navigate an immense and intricate maze of actuarial and personal mistakes and corrections, all in hot pursuit of fraud and fraudster—seeing in the possibility of success a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for proper self-advancement.
“An auditor, we know, is a watchdog and not a bloodhound, but a chartered accountant who fails to find a fraud when he has been tipped off about it is like a soldier who neglects to destroy his enemy on the field of battle.”
Taking a minor thematic departure from his more consciously religious fiction, Marshall still surrounds this cost-counting drama and its characters with a tangible quality of authenticity and solicitude. First appearing in 1958, The Accounting is a characteristically clever and witty entry in Marshall’s ledger.
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Bruce Marshall (1899–1987) was a Scottish writer, accountant, veteran of both World Wars, and convert to Roman Catholicism. In a career spanning six decades, Marshall wrote forty novels, five of which will feature in the Cluny Classics series: Father Malachy’s Miracle, The Month of the Falling Leaves, The Accounting, Vespers in Vienna, and A Thread of Scarlet.