Layton, better known as mystery writer Natasha Cooper (Prey to All, 2000, etc.), starts putting the pressure on London stockbroker Cass Evesham by offsetting her huge success at her job with the treachery of Alan, her longtime lover, who’s chosen the eve of their two-week holiday in the Seychelles to end their affair. Then comes the news that Cass’s grandmother Livia has been granted parole after 25 years in jail for the murders of her husband, Henry Claughton, and his mistress, famed diva Flora Gainsborough. Livia’s one-time lawyer Gordon Bayley has rented a cottage for her in a remote Cumbrian village where her probation officer, Colin Whyle, pays regular calls, bringing along Bobby, an 11-year-old delinquent, for Livia, once a brilliant young architect, to teach. Visiting for a few days, Cass happens to be at the cottage when Christopher Bromyard, a well-known business figure in London, on a walking tour, collapses on the doorstep, suffering from fatigue and pneumonia. On Cass’s return to London, the exhaustively published news of Livia’s release forces her into a life of evading the media and eventually into the rescue of her grandmother from a threat that comes from a wholly unexpected quarter.
Less whodunit than psychological thriller, the story gradually reveals the burdens and tensions that led to Livia’s crime and delves perceptively into Cass’s fears and triumphs. A splendid job.