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by Alison Taylor
Arrow, July 2000
391 pages
5.99 GBP
ISBN: 0099272083

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Piers Stanton Smith had been imprisoned for beating his wife, Trisha, to death. New evidence has come to light that he was not the murderer, so he has been released from prison. A priest had left Haughton to do missionary work in Africa 2 days after Trish's murder. He read of Smith's arrest in the newspapers and claims that he sent a letter to the local parish priest asking him to turn it over to the police unopened. The letter said that Smith had been in church at the time of the murder. Father Brett Fauvel claimed he handed the letter to DI Barry Dugdale the day it arrived. Dugdale claimed he never got the letter.

Superintendent Michael McKenna, Detective Inspector Jack Tuttle, Detective Constable Janet Evans, and administrator Ellen Turner, have been seconded to Haughton from their usual beat in North Wales to investigate the claim that the police suppressed the evidence and hounded an innocent man. They opt to use the old police house in the village of Old Haughton, rather than the station, in order to be able to remain independent of the local police. The 2 men will be staying at the house while the women have rooms at the pub. Rene Minshull, a local policeman's widow, has been brought in to cook and clean for the 4, and through her, they learn of local feuds and friendships.

As is usual with Taylor's books, there are many threads to knit into a whole. The chapters are held together by newspaper reports written by a very aggressive tabloid reporter. Old secrets are brought to the surface causing at least one marriage to break up. Piers, although a reprehensible character, now married to the local heiress, was really not guilty of that murder, and the investigation does clear him, but the village will never be the same after McKenna and his team leave.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, January 2003

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