The Hemingways, Tony and Hannah, married 15 years, teach art and literature at The Ridings, a third-rate but expensive girls' school in Yorkshire owned by Gerald Morley (who's more interested in money than education). Tony's a pedestrian teacher, wife Hannah is the gifted one--and when she commits suicide, everyone seems to know why except Tony, who'll spend the rest of the book straining for enlightenment. Meanwhile, running parallel to Tony's woes, there's the saga of rich bitch Angela Wharton--who has left home after a tiff with her father and winds up in bed with married playboy Nick Page. . . just when Nick's house is broken into by burglar Ben Cooley. And then we follow Cooley as he runs from the scene of the crime, meeting Daft Ned--a raving lunatic who carries a double-barreled shotgun and who eventually ends up setting fire to . . . The Ridings. There's more, much more, as Wainwright struggles to make his parallel lines meet convincingly--but they never do, and the characters' fuzzily sentimental musings mesh oddly with a penny-dreadful relish for gory detail. Perhaps a master of multiple plotting like Ruth Rendell could have made something of the fairly imaginative ideas here; as it is, however--just another sticky Wainwright stew.