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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

February 11, 1996|ERIKA TAYLOR

IN MY FATHER'S NAME by Mark Arax (Simon & Schuster: $24; 399 pp.). If I didn't have an intuition that Mark Arax was completely reliable, I would not believe his story. "In My Father's Name" feels so much like a movie that I found myself casting each role as I read this sometimes suspenseful, sometimes sad account of murder and family history.

Arax was 15 when his father was shot to death at his Fresno nightclub. It was a sensational murder causing much speculation since his father, Ara Arax, had connections to a whole host of illegal activities. He was also a difficult, complicated man who loved his children passionately but had a temper that he couldn't, or wouldn't, control.

Two decades after the murder, Arax, who grew up to be a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, moved his wife and daughter to Fresno, where under an assumed name, he began to unravel what really happened to his father.

This is a book about lessons and destiny. The Arax family had four murders in four generations. They were plagued much the way some royalty has been plagued with hemophilia. "In My Father's Name" spends quite a bit of time exploring what it means to be an Arax, to be Armenian, to be raised in a town full of corruption. It is a dark, smart and oddly optimistic book since one gets the feeling that with Mark Arax's generation the legacy of murder has finally ended.

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