A London TV producer who’s retired to Devon to get away from it all is terrorized by a series of anonymous phone calls that mercilessly reveal every fault line in the lives of two families, one of them her own.
As opera singer Alex Colley’s car inches forward in traffic, his wife exults silently: “My name is Justine Merrison and I do Nothing.” No more early morning meetings, no more blandishments to strangers, no more guessing which series will have legs. Not even the momentary sense of alarmed recognition that passes over her when Alex teasingly tells Ellen, their 14-year-old daughter, that they’ve changed plans and decided to move into a random house he points out on the side of the highway can disturb her quietude. Four months later, though, she’s plenty disturbed by a series of calls from a woman who refuses to identify herself but says she knows why Justine, whom she insists on calling “Sandie,” has moved outside Kingswear and insists she go back to London. Ellen, meanwhile, seems to have settled into the Beaconwood School by writing a story of a family whose youngest daughter is a multiple murderer and a murder victim herself. But Ellen’s honeymoon with Beaconwood ends when her best friend, George Donbavand, is expelled for stealing the coat she gave him. Things get worse when Justine goes to the school to plead George’s case and head teacher Lesley Griffiths denies that there ever was such a student. Soon enough the deepening mystery forces Justine to confront the real reason she left her old job and her old life in the first place. Plenty of shivery intimations of second sight, but Hannah (Woman with a Secret, 2015, etc.) plots and writes persuasively enough to pull them off.
Even after the last clouds have dispersed, you won’t soon forget this nightmare within a nightmare.