Teenaged thugs terrorize a suburban housing development.
When Hester Warren cursed the villagers of Catcombe in Somersetshire for burning her as a witch, no one could foresee that the old woman’s oath would be realized in the form of a vast modern housing estate called Catcombe Mead. These neat brick detached homes have brought commuters who work in London and shop in the estate’s own shopping center, causing the village shops to wither until all that remains is a post office, a co-op and a junk shop open only in the summer. The residents of Old Catcombe hate what they call “the incomers.” Attempting to help heal the rift between the two Catcombes, Tim Baker, the village vicar, rides his bicycle into the Mead with a message of goodwill and gets stomped to death for his trouble. Kevin Miller’s mother Donna sees her son attack Baker. So does Alice Bates, hiding behind her curtains. Retired pediatrician Peter Henson knows Kevin’s to blame, as do Terri and Helen, the lesbian couple across the street. Yet none of the Forester Close homeowners are willing to share what they know with DCI Rachel Moody or her sergeant Jack Reid for fear of reprisals from Kevin, his brother Nate, and his purple-haired sister Jess. Jess has reason enough to hate Kevin: He’s the father of her two-year-old daughter Kylie. But the Millers are a loyal bunch, and as they close ranks along with Helen’s daughter Nicky, they show why their cowering neighbors have every reason to fear their wrath.
McLoughlin (Shadow of a Doubt, 2011, etc.) seems to specialize in non-mysteries, with suspense arising from the overheated relationships among the principals.