Books by Margaret Yorke

CAUSE FOR CONCERN by Margaret Yorke
Released: Nov. 7, 2002

"Not Yorke's best, but still a remarkable exercise in the sociology of crime in which the most unhealthy relationships sprout from the village setting as naturally as toadstools."
Life is proceeding in its accustomed rhythms when the man calling himself Adam Wilson arrives in the village of Bishop St. Leon. DI Roger Morris, of the Reading CID, is hiding his guilt over having accidentally killed his daughter beneath an oafish manner that makes strangers flinch. Susan Trent, the personal assistant to Rotherston estate agent Brian Marsh, is smoothing heavy makeup over her latest bruises and telling anyone who'll listen that she had another nasty fall. And Martin Trent, a sometime travel courier just returned from Venice, has slipped back into a comfortable alternation between showing affection to his girlfriend Debbie Grant's daughters (whose father consequently believes he's a pedophile) and beating his mother. Adam doesn't yet know all these secrets, but although he exercises due caution in chatting up the local pubkeeper, listening in on the nannies' gossip, and quizzing his new flatmates, bespoke carpenter Chris Castle and DI Morris, it won't be long before his mysteriously unidentified mission is complete. Betweentimes, wily veteran Yorke (A Case to Answer, 2001, etc.) winds up the tension so slowly yet surely that even rare outbursts of good news ("Rose had not got meningitis, nor a fractured skull. . . . Susan's bruises faded") sound ominous—until a violent windstorm uncovers a long-buried secret that will provoke one last round of violence. Read full book review >
A CASE TO ANSWER by Margaret Yorke
Released: Dec. 28, 2001

"A lesser work that's still a tour de force of understatement, with no single climax to disturb the subtly rising tide of uneasiness Yorke manages better than anybody else in the business."
Following the death of her second husband, Rupert, who left her life tenancy in their country house, Charlotte Frost has been pensioned off to a little cottage on the grounds of the Granbury vicarage. Rupert's son, roller-coaster businessman Felix, has made no secret of his feeling that the money his family has tied up in Charlotte's new home really belongs to him, and it's with a sense of due expectation that Rupert's daughter, Lorna Price, approaches Charlotte to ask a favor. Felix's wife Zoe has decamped with yet another of her men. Would Charlotte please take in their daughter Imogen, pregnant and AWOL from the boarding school she detests? Seeing no way to decline, Charlotte accepts the ungracious, unhappy new tenant, who's soon being squired around Granbury by her twin brother Nicholas, another runaway, and Jerry Hunt, a young offender trying, as he maintains, to put his checkered past behind him. Charlotte's not to know that Jerry's still friendly with Pete Dixon, the young man retired naval captain Howard Smythe caught trying to rob him, or that there's both more and less to Imogen's story than she's telling. Longtime fans of Yorke (The Price of Guilt, 2000) will wait with bated breath for the fatal accident that will bring down the whole house of cards. Read full book review >
THE PRICE OF GUILT by Margaret Yorke
Released: March 1, 2000

"bleakest-of-Britain bookshelf."
Another of Yorke's signature pieces (False Pretences, 1999, etc.) featuring a middle-class life of excruciating desperation, Read full book review >
FALSE PRETENCES by Margaret Yorke
Released: April 6, 1999

Life, it seems, continues on an imperturbable course in cozy Northtown until the arrival of two strangers. One is Emily Frost, whom her godmother Isabel Vernon, though she hasn't seen her for many years, bails out of prison after she's arrested for an environmental demonstration turned violent. The other is Godfrey Sutton, paid off long ago to leave sheltered Alice Watkinson alone, who now returns to find that he's got a four-year-old daughter, Rowena. With a few deft strokes, Yorke (Act of Violence, 1998, etc.) brings these two lost souls together but doesn't move them to share their secrets: Godfrey, that Rowena Watkinson is the daughter he's determined to get access to; Emily, that she isn't Emily Frost at all. As the two plot at darkly comic cross-purposes—Godfrey's designs against Alice and the frail parents who booted him out turning from extortion to abduction—Yorke patiently reveals the ways in which these two pariahs are expressing the resentment that's already been seething inside lonely Alice Watson and ill-matched Isabel and her primly minatory husband Douglas, civil servant and landscape gardener (one of the author's slyest portraits of engorged self-satisfaction). Even after the final quiet twist, you'll be wishing you could spend more time among Yorke's dextrously skewered misfits. Read full book review >
ACT OF VIOLENCE by Margaret Yorke
Released: Aug. 14, 1998

No one, it seems, can close out the killing of Daniel Stewart. Jamie Preston, the boy who begged him to break up the schoolboy melee that led to his death, is torn between guilt at rousing him and determination not to peach on the bullies who stabbed him to death. Jamie's friends from Mickleburgh Comprehensive, just as scared and obdurate, are no more help to the investigating police. The vengeful vows of Daniel's son Mark ring hollow; his harmless widow Midge can't forgive herself for her failure to go out with him; and his well-cushioned friends Oliver and Sarah Foxton are sharply divided over how, and how much, they can help her. Into this mess of grief and guilt, limned with her customary surgical precision, Yorke drops a wild card: Wendy Tyler, a counselor lately arrived in Mickleburgh who has spent the past several years not in training but, rather, in serving out a long sentence for murdering her lover's wife. Entranced with the control her adopted profession gives her over her clients, and bent on adding Midge to their number, Wendy, in a hideously effective series of parodies of therapeutic dialogue, succeeds in laying bare every well-meaning pretense of the cast, providing, in the end, closure of a most untherapeutic sort. Like the best of Yorke's many quietly chilling novels (A Question of Belief, 1997, etc.), this one links events that in advance are seemingly unpredictable—and are utterly inevitable in retrospect. Read full book review >
A QUESTION OF BELIEF by Margaret Yorke
Released: Dec. 8, 1997

No wonder Philip Winter feels driven to fake his own death. Once predatory Sandra White accuses him of attempted rape, his life is basically over; even after he's acquitted in court, he can't get another job, and his own wife and daughter think ``he must have done something wrong, if not what she said.'' Abandoning his car by a lake that might suggest drowning, Philip slips away into a twilight world of aimless lorry rides, long days without washing or proper meals, and the occasional odd job, as his unshaved beard starts to come in white. But things are about to get worse, for Philip's wanderings bring him together with Denis Smith, an illiterate thief who's hooked up to an even more dangerous woman: animal-rights terrorist Tessa Graham, whose passion is so scorching that she doesn't mind shooting a few rabbits to make her point. As Yorke leaps back and forth between inoffensive Philip (whose family is sketched with the author's usual brisk authority) and Tessa's makeshift gang—especially her lover Orlando, who takes it upon himself to avenge Philip's suffering, and a student recruit called Jet, who's nursing secrets of her own—you find yourself waiting breathlessly for the inevitable collision of the guilty-seeming and the truly guilty. The liberal use of coincidence makes this a lesser entry among Yorke's doomy suspensers (Serious Intent, 1996, etc.). But fans will find this latest tour of the human zoo powered by all her irresistible momentum. Read full book review >
SERIOUS INTENT by Margaret Yorke
Released: April 4, 1996

The boys who hang around The Willows, the house of old Tom Morton—Steve Burton, 14, and his friend Mark Conway, 10—don't give any thought to their casual deceptions or thefts. Neither does Mark's friend Terry Gardner or his brother Justin at neighboring Merrifields. But each of the boys is acting out another chapter in the sorry tale of their absent or inadequate parent-figures. The Gardner boys resent their new stepfather Richard, whom they think responsible for the mood swings of their neurotic mother, Verity, a self-styled artist. Mark, left on his own by his working mother and his caretaker, Steve's unwitting stepmother, is struggling to find adults he can trust. And Steve, though he doesn't realize it, is already preparing to follow in the footsteps of Tom's son Alan, just released from years in prison after shooting his wife. When retiree Marigold Darwin returns to her hometown bent on purchasing Merrifields, the home she grew up in, her well-meaning interference in the boys' lives sparks another of the matchless bourgeois tragedies in which Yorke briskly drains her characters of their last petty secret. Connoisseurs might argue that the story's intricacy, its echo of sorrow and misdeed from generation to generation, makes it less swift and brutal than Almost the Truth (1995). But readers with a taste for Yorke's grim counterpoint won't complain. Read full book review >
ALMOST THE TRUTH by Margaret Yorke
Released: March 1, 1995

9296582.795 Yorke, Margaret ALMOST THE TRUTH A routine burglary turns to rape, and then something even uglier, when Hannah Jarvis, who can't forgive her father, Derek, for counseling submission instead of fighting to save her, withdraws from him and men and the world. The coppers have long locked up junior burglar Barry Carter and his senior partner, Morris Black, of course, but time marches on, as it does in Yorke's remorseless chronicles of middle-class disaster (Dangerous to Know, 1994, etc.), and five years later, Barry has discharged his debt to society and is turned back to the world. By this time, Derek and Janet Jarvis have drifted into divorce; imperious Janet, her daughter's only support during the traumatic months after the rape, has bought a dress shop and coasted from early success into bankruptcy and a job tending bar. Meanwhile, inoffensive Derek, stung by his daughter's rejection, has resolved on a murderous revenge. Yorke makes all this rise-and- fall nonaction—the passage of time while her unwitting characters wait for the real action they're sure is just around the corner—riveting, not through the violence of her characters' behavior (though Barry, released from prison, offhandedly proves that his initial rape was no fluke) but through the clipped, propulsive rhythms of her prose, which suggests both the surgeon's knife and the voice of doom. Is it too late for wily veteran Yorke to enjoy the crossover success of her mordant spiritual cousins Julian Symons and Ruth Rendell? Time, as Yorke might sniff, will tell. Read full book review >
DANGEROUS TO KNOW by Margaret Yorke
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

The author adds domestic abuse to her chronicles of British middle-class society (A Small Deceit, etc.) as she contemplates Hermione Brown, a chronically frightened mouse married to Walter—a pompous, penny-pinching monster ruined by his own brutal childhood. Their two grown daughters have escaped the loveless household in Merbury village in record time, and Hermione is beginning to silently rebel, taking on two cleaning jobs without Walter's knowledge, thankful for the increasing frequency of his late nights. Walter's life has been changing, too, as he finds other outlets for his savagery. He's not finished with Hermione, though, and a last violent confrontation finds Walter in the headlines and Hermione in a fight for her future. Repetitive at times and a bit too leisurely in pace, but filled with quiet menace and sharply observed characters: one of veteran Yorke's better efforts. Read full book review >
CRIMINAL DAMAGE by Margaret Yorke
Released: Jan. 1, 1993

The reserved, glacially calm character of widow Eleanor Newton dominates the latest from Yorke (A Small Deceit, etc., etc.). Eleanor has built a comfortable income for herself with cautious investments and a series of house moves—profitable in better times. Now, living for several years in Middle Bardolph, she can sell only at a loss. In the meantime, volatile daughter Jennifer of London has become obsessed with the idea of revenge against Stephanie Dunn—who's soon to marry Daniel, Jennifer's recent live- in lover—while Eleanor's son Geoffry has married an acquisitive social climber and rarely sees his mother. An irrational act of mischief has brought Jennifer to a possible jail sentence and, for the time being, home to her mother. On a day when Jennifer is pursuing her nemesis in a nearby town, Eleanor is brutally attacked during a robbery engineered by Kevin, the vindictive bad apple of a fatherless working-class family. The air of menace that's pervasive in the beginning here peters out; even the disclosure of Eleanor's dark secret stirs little excitement in what is essentially a saga of traumatic family relationships: in all, heavily introspective, moderately interesting, but uncompelling. Read full book review >
A SMALL DECEIT by Margaret Yorke
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

Yorke likes to disturb the smooth-surfaced but often frustrated lives of her characters with a malignant outside force (Intimate Kill, etc.). In this outing the cat among the pigeons is William Adams, recently out of prison after serving time for rape. His other crimes, including murder, have gone undiscovered. The chanciest of encounters brings him into fleeting contact with Colin Drew, the judge who sentenced him. Now, in addition to his sleazy con games, Adams can add sadistic spice to his life with a series of vaguely menacing calls and messages to the judge and his lonely, submissive wife Felicity—a practice that eventually escalates into murder. Sensitive and suspenseful, with convincing people living unfulfilled lives that are changed forever by the blackhearted deeds of William Adams. Quietly engrossing and among the author's best. Read full book review >