STRAINED RELATIONS by Alison Cairns

STRAINED RELATIONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Every summer London teacher Chris Quinn and his wife Caroline go down to the Quinn hometown in Cornwall, staying in a cottage near the homes of older brother Russell (married) and younger sister Alexis (single). This year, however, Caroline is acting strangely--refusing to go, then disappearing. Meanwhile, there are uneasy doings down in that Cornwall village: Stan and Susanne Hyson, the nice couple who've bought the old Quinn homestead, apparently have some dark secrets; also, a foul young Lothario has hit town, easily seducing teen-tart Tracey and (it seems) trying some blackmail. Then, as Chris arrives in frantic search of Caroline, frictions escalate and corpses surface: first Tracey's, then Caroline's. And though there are coppers on the case, the informal sleuthing is done by Alexis' burbling young suitor Toby Wilde, a beginning lawyer who always wanted to be a policeman. Solidly engaging when sketching in the family/village tensions, limp and implausible when sorting them all out: a so-so debut from Britain, from a writer doing her best (with intermittent success) to fashion an updated Agatha Christie-style mystery.

Pub Date: Dec. 30th, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's