Photographer-writer Margot has returned from New York to St. Albans in England and to the family home of aunts, uncles, and cousins in which she was raised. It’s a stressful time for the family: The trial of Chloe, daughter of Uncle Wilfred and Aunt Milly, for the murder of her twin sister Claudia, is about to start. Lynette, the daughter of Claudia and politician father of Kingsley, has taken to her bed. Chloe, the accused, has refused to say a word to any of the family since the tragedy. Margot is saying nothing of her own tragedy—the death of her partner-lover Sven while on assignment covering an uprising in the Far East. The trial has barely begun when Margot, searching in the middle of a restless night for Tikki the cat, discovers the body of a woman at the edge of the garden pool. Ironically, this latest disaster at last breaks the uneasy silence hanging over the family. The trial is adjourned as the police take over, identifying the victim as Polly Parsons, owner of an adventure-oriented travel agency, who turns out to have a connection to a member of the household. It’s that person’s revelations that finally allow Chloe to be reunited with her relatives.
More attuned to family relationships than to murder, with minimal tension, but the prolific Babson (To Catch a Cat, 2000, etc.) is as easy to read as ever, and Tikki is a mercifully minor presence in a so-so outing even ailurophobes will be able to swallow.