A client suffering from nightmares leads a psychotherapist down a treacherous path in coastal Wales.
A photograph of a handsome man with his eyes scribbled out baffles Dr. Jessica Mayhew when it arrives anonymously in her office mail. But Gwydion Morgan, a handsome actor with an irrational fear and a recurring dream about being trapped in a small, dark place, takes Jessica’s mind off the photo—and her shaky marriage. Then she realizes that the photo shows Gwydion’s father, Evan, a well-known director, womanizer and, Jessica suspects, child abuser. On a visit to Creigfa House, the Morgans’ imposing cliffside home, Jessica encounters Gwydion’s mother, Arionrhod, and a lingering mystery about what happened to Elsa Lindberg, a Swedish tourist who drowned near the house several years back. As Gwydion’s dreams become more detailed, the middle-aged Jessica becomes increasingly attracted to her 25-year-old client, more suspicious about Elsa’s relationship to the family and more convinced that the answer lies somewhere at Creigfa House. Jessica’s entanglement with the Morgans has predictable consequences in this low-key psychological mystery, which may stand alone as the only Welsh novel that uses button phobia as a plot device.
Williams’ rationalizations for the unprofessional behavior of her heroine, a smart shrink who makes a lot of dumb decisions, don’t add up. But Jessica is a strong, sympathetic protagonist whose own complexities, more than the intricate family puzzle she tries to solve, make her debut worth reading.