The murder of an irascible father-in-law.
DI Charlie Peace never cared for his father-in-law, ego-driven author Rupert Coggenhoe. His wife Felicity didn’t much care for her father either. So when they moved to Slepton Edge and he made noises about moving in with them, they quickly found him a bungalow a bit of a walk away. As the Peaces have become friends with Alison and Chris Carlson, another couple also expecting a child, Rupert’s attracted a sort of fan club. Though most of them disperse when his self-absorption bores them, one young thing remains: Anne Michaels, a sexually active, wickedly mean teen Rupert calls his muse, who has her own fan club of school kids who follow her orders to harass newcomers and blackmail them into submission. One day, Rupert’s walk ends when he tumbles into a quarry. Is his death nothing more than an accident? Charlie, being family, is warned off the case by local copper Ben Costello. Unable to leave it alone, he ends up uncovering not only a friend’s sad secret but the reason for his father-in-law’s death.
The usually adroit Barnard (Dying Flames, 2006, etc.) begins and ends skillfully but bogs down at the three-quarters mark and has to rely on a bus conversation and a car-ride recap. Still, this is an exquisitely troubling portrait of parenting, teaching and the pack mentality.