Following the death of her second husband, Rupert, who left her life tenancy in their country house, Charlotte Frost has been pensioned off to a little cottage on the grounds of the Granbury vicarage. Rupert’s son, roller-coaster businessman Felix, has made no secret of his feeling that the money his family has tied up in Charlotte’s new home really belongs to him, and it’s with a sense of due expectation that Rupert’s daughter, Lorna Price, approaches Charlotte to ask a favor. Felix’s wife Zoe has decamped with yet another of her men. Would Charlotte please take in their daughter Imogen, pregnant and AWOL from the boarding school she detests? Seeing no way to decline, Charlotte accepts the ungracious, unhappy new tenant, who’s soon being squired around Granbury by her twin brother Nicholas, another runaway, and Jerry Hunt, a young offender trying, as he maintains, to put his checkered past behind him. Charlotte’s not to know that Jerry’s still friendly with Pete Dixon, the young man retired naval captain Howard Smythe caught trying to rob him, or that there’s both more and less to Imogen’s story than she’s telling. Longtime fans of Yorke (The Price of Guilt, 2000) will wait with bated breath for the fatal accident that will bring down the whole house of cards.
A lesser work that’s still a tour de force of understatement, with no single climax to disturb the subtly rising tide of uneasiness Yorke manages better than anybody else in the business.