Ian McEwan has plumbed, with rigorous precision, the nitty-gritty dealings of many characters working in high-stakes professions: a neurosurgeon, in Saturday (2005); a Nobel Prize–winning physicist, in Solar (2010); a British High Court judge, in The Children Act (2014). Nutshell, his by-all-accounts ridiculously entertaining new novel, dispenses with the outside professional world and tells its story of lust and murder from the perspective of a highly observant and articulate in-utero narrator. The pregnant mother has ordered her husband to move out of their London townhouse, in no small part due to the affair she's carrying on with the man's real-estate-developer brother. The lovers are hatching a plan to kill the father — a typically macabre McEwan plot — and the third-trimester fetus perceives this all from the mother's womb, his eloquently cutting remarks encountering unwanted interruption during intercourse or wine binges. Mc- Ewan discusses the buzzy Nutshell here with Christopher R. Beha, the executive editor of Harper's Magazine.
Over the years,