A chance meeting and a hasty decision plunge a young man into another family's problems as well as his own.
Mark Richmond is the adoring father of Florence and the puzzled husband of Sophie, the spoiled daughter of Peter Kingsley, the best friend of Mark’s father. Sophie’s been distant of late, but her father's sudden suicide quickly broadens the cracks in their marriage when she uses the bereavement as an excuse for her refusal to come home to London with Florence. Needing a break, Mark leaves on a walking holiday but is scooped up at King’s Cross by a young woman who mistakes him for a man she hired to play the part of her fiance at a family gathering in Drumlee, Scotland. Helena Crawford suspects that her younger sister will be announcing her engagement at a party for their parents’ ruby wedding anniversary and wants to get in first. Out of curiosity, Mark, now to be known as Adam Ryder, agrees to go along with the deception, a role made trickier by the hidden secrets and unexplained crosscurrents within Helena’s family. Helena’s sister has befriended a forlorn young woman whose claim that Drumlee was the favorite spot of her recently deceased mother adds another layer to the puzzle. When Mark finally gets a chance to check his cellphone, it’s full of desperate messages from family and friends. As the story switches between Scotland and England, past and present, Mark slowly learns the secrets behind both the tragedies and comedies he’s become involved with, secrets whose resolutions will heal many lives.
Instead of a run-of-the-mill mystery, Fraser (Retribution, 2018, etc.) provides a series of puzzles and stories of love gone wrong that make her tale of tangled family relationships consistently absorbing.