Barnard (The Graveyard Position, 2005, etc.), who has so many aces up his sleeve he could be outlawed in Vegas, presents another rattling good story that glides in and out of the psyche’s crevasses.
Graham Broadbent, a semi-famous midlist novelist, at first assumes the flirtatious teenager is trying to shake him down by insisting she’s his daughter. He tells her he’s childless and never met her mum. He’s lying, of course, but then so was her mum, Peggy, who frolicked with quite a few men 20 years ago. But who’s telling which lie? Peggy, who then and now blithely reworded her life scenario for maximum dramatic impact, didn’t care whether she left her kids to bring themselves up while she toddled off for glamorous flings. But what is Graham to make of her whispering to him that his real child was a baby boy? Where is that boy now? With her usual grandiosity, Peggy arranges a dinner party for all concerned, including Graham, her long-estranged father and all her kids, including a surprise entry, all of them somewhat skeptical about whom to call Daddy. Two of the kids storm out, Peggy goes missing and Graham takes on some long-overdue parental responsibility. When Peggy turns up dead several weeks later, he tries to piece together which of the many daddies or offspring might have done it.
Just sit back and enjoy. You’re in expert hands.