Myerson’s fifth novel (after Laura Blundy, 2000, etc.) is a portrait of the fears and confusions ignited when a brutal murder takes place in a small English town.
Nothing was ever the same in town after Lennie was found dead in the garage. A wife and mother of two, she was last seen leaving a PTA meeting in her hometown in the north of England. The next day the police found her mutilated corpse (the heart had been cut out). Tess, a local physician, was Lennie’s longtime neighbor and best friend, and, in the aftermath of the crime, she helps look after Lennie’s husband, Alex, and the children while he attends to the official duties of identifying the body and meeting with the police. Tess and her boyfriend Mick are also questioned by the police, who seem just as dumbfounded by the case as do most of Lennie’s friends. One of the investigators is Ted Lacey, a “family liaison” specially assigned to take testimony from relatives and friends. In the course of her meetings with Lacey, Tess becomes more and more attracted to him, and eventually the two begin a secret affair. It’s hard to keep secrets in a town consumed with suspicions, but Ted and Tess manage—until Tess’s young daughter Rosa disappears while Tess is away at a rendezvous with Ted. Is this the work of a serial killer, or has the girl simply run away from home? And why is Darren Sims, a simple-minded farmboy who never hurt a fly now going about town bragging that he and Lennie were lovers? If Miss Marple ever made it to Peyton Place, she’d be able to sort out the loose ends in no time. But she’s nowhere to be seen here.
An intelligent account of a town succumbing to mass hysteria—but much too gradual in its pace.