Trish Maguire’s never had much to do with her dad, who abandoned her and her mum years ago and is now in the hospital fighting off the effects of a coronary. But that’s no reason why Trish, a family-law barrister, shouldn’t research the case of Deborah Gilbert, imprisoned for suffocating her own irascible dad, for Anna Grayling, a producer planning a sort of tabloid documentary she hopes will end with an accusatory finale fingering a different murderer. Touched by Deborah, believing in her, Trish visits her husband and four children and discovers that Kate, the oldest child, bears a striking resemblance to M.P. Malcolm Chaze, a virulently anti-drug politician who is soon shot dead on his doorstep in Pimlico. Sorting through two deaths, Trish crosses paths with Chief Inspector Femur, a man on the edge of burnout, as they interview Chaze’s unloving wife, his cowed secretary, and young Kate, and reassess the damning evidence produced by Deborah’s sister and the family doctor at her trial, as well as the obviously false confession offered up by her mother. Three deeply unsatisfactory marriages will come under scrutiny and force Trish to study her wavering commitment to her live-in lover George before an arcane interaction of substances and a long-grieving mum surface to resolve the two stories.
An intense heroine grapples with stifling distrust and verbal and physical spousal abuse, all in that polite, understated British manner. Like Trish’s first case (Creeping Ivy, 1998): cool, literate, and just a bit twisty.