Divorced, middle-aged, shy, and awkward Audrey Bannerman has returned to Coxton village after her daughter's suicide and the failure of her marriage. In her youth, she'd lived in Ford House, now newly owned by Yvonne and Charles Davies, who are slowly adjusting to country life with three children. Coxton has an open prison, a kind of halfway house for nonviolent offenders. Audrey has hired one of them--Jim Sawyer--to do odd jobs. At the same time, Yvonne employs Denis, a local teen-ager given to lies and theft but not blackhearted, despite a brutal father whose beatings have driven him tv leave home, sleeping in a van owned by his sister's boyfriend. Ever alert to the main chance, Denis becomes friendly with Len, a small-time crook soon to be released, and conspires with him to rob Ford House. Meanwhile, Audrey lakes an interest in Sawyer and, at his request, visits his wife Maureen. who has a new lover and wants no part of her jailbird husband. Obsessed with the idea of changing her mind, Sawyer decamps--just in time to be blamed for a murder committed by Len in the course of his bungled robbery. Len and Denis seem to be home free as the police hunt down their mistaken culprit, but there's more to come and justice triumphs in the end. The author's customary perceptive insight into troubled lives (Devil's Work, etc) enriches a neatly plotted story that builds steadily to its satisfying climax. Quiet, solid, and above-average Yorke.