The Big Picture 7 – The End

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SPOILERS!!!

Things come to a head when Ben’s photographs become famous, and he starts getting offers from most prestigious newspapers and magazines. He is not impressed as he knows that he is at risk here. Yet, he still thinks he can get away with it. So he appoints Judy, the woman from the gallery, his agent and gives her full power to handle his matters. His telephone won’t stop ringing and he also receives dozens of letter, one of which comes from Beth. She tells him about how hurt she was by his desertion, which came in the worst time when her husband died. She mentions being devastated and tortured by guilt, and she also tells him about Adam taking his dad’s death the hard way. Beth informs him that she is now dating Elliot, owner of an art gallery in Connecticut. The letter is not easy for Ben, especially the part about Adam, but he still decides to write another letter to give the ultimate push that would sever their ties.

Ben goes travelling around Montana as he has a commission for some photographs. Anne misses him and they phone each other every day. Ann tells him about Rudy Warren. Before Ben left, he witnessed an incident in which Rudy was uncontrollable, hurling furniture around the office and ending up with his fist into a computer monitor. The man was taken to the hospital, but Anne tells him that Rudy checked himself out and called their boss on his way to Mexico.

Ben returns to Mountain Falls in the nick of time for the opening of his exhibition. His car broke down, and it was repaired only hours before the big day. Ben feels jittery about the people who might be in the gallery, fearing someone might have known the real Gary. And then worst thing happens. Judy steers him to meet Elliot, and to his horror he sees the man he knows his wife is dating, and Beth is there as well. So he flees, only hearing behind him Beth calling him, and he doesn’t stop even when Anne runs after him. Back in his apartment he realises that his home has been invaded, and he sees Rudy, who is not in Mexico as everyone believes, but in his apartment. Ben asks him for a favour: get his car from the gallery. The man conceded on the condition he goes with him; Ben refuses but he stops when Rudy surprises with a reference to the murder of Gary. As they drive in his car, both quite drunk, he tells Ben that in the days he was cocooned in the apartment, he had nothing to do but snoop, and after checking everything, he was able to put two and two together. Now what intends to blackmail Ben for the rest of his life.

His intentions are cut at that very moment, as Rudy veers the car when a lorry comes in his direction, and the car falls into a precipice, only with Ben jumping out of it. Ben sees the car in flames and knows that there is nothing he can do. He sees the police and ambulance there, but he keeps hidden, fearing that he will have to answer questions and an investigation is the last thing he needs. His knee is injured, but he manages to hobble to Anne’s cabin. Then when he turns on the radio, the news bulletin announces that Gary Summers, and not Rudy Warren, had been killed in a terrible accident. The police and everyone believe that he was the one in the charred car as everyone thought that Rudy was in Mexico. Once again he finds himself without identity. Now Gary Summers has died, and he is nobody.

Then the day he decides to leave, Anne appears, getting the shock of her life. Ben decides to tell her everything, and naturally, Anne is stiff with him and thinks he has lied to him all this time. She also tell him that she is pregnant. Ben knows that his destiny is in her hands, and he keeps fearing when she leaves that she will report him. Yet, she doesn’t, and she keeps coming to the cabin, and when he has spent a week in LA, she tells him that he has a job offer in LA. So Anne becomes her accomplice when she decides to keep quiet and help him build a new identity. Now Ben is Andrew, and they create a new life in Los Angeles. They get married and Anne gives birth to boy, Jack. They seem content, but I think that by the end of the novel there is a sense of incompleteness in this couple. The good vibes that they oozed at the beginning of their relationship are not there any longer. I think that they can’t be happy completely because of what they had done and are hidden. I don’t think they can relax completely, and what Ben lost the day he killed Gary Summers will be his punishment for the rest of his days.

I loved the novel. At first it went a bit too slow, and I found the bleak tone a bit off-putting. Yet, the second part of the book was fascinating, and even though I really thought Ben would eventually get his comeuppance, life is not always like that.

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