Professional and personal relationships collide with the energy of supernovas.
When Naomi Jenkins’s married lover Robert fails to show up at Traveltel’s Room 11 for their regular three-hour tryst, she scurries to his house, glances in his living room window and promptly falls down in shock. His wife Juliet appears, taunts Naomi, and then says she’s done her a good turn, convincing Naomi that something dire has happened. The police, however, merely think she’s been dumped. So DS Charlie Zailer heads for a Spanish holiday with her sister, while DC Simon Waterhouse looks the other way until Naomi reappears and tells a whopper to keep him interested: that Robert raped her three years ago. In response, he agrees to visit Juliet and finds Robert in a coma, the victim of a monster thwack to his head. Meanwhile, Charlie and her sister, disgruntled, leave Spain for a Scottish B & B owned by Graham Angilley, where the plot twists and jerks into a tangle of coincidental meetings, duped women, rapes enacted for paying viewers, a plethora of lies and half-truths and, even worse, stifling silences and a discretion so traumatic that it forces Charlie into seclusion, Simon into despair, Juliet into confession and Naomi into the role of avenger.
Hannah (The Dead Lie Down, 2009, etc.), who understands psychological mayhem as well as Ruth Rendell and maybe even Sigmund Freud, is best read with a crisis counselor on speed-dial. The tight plotting and excruciatingly precise clues make for a superlatively uneasy read.