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by Sarah Diamond
Orion, June 2004
256 pages
ISBN: 0752861433

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

We start with Anna Jeffreys leaving her job as a local council PR officer to move with her husband to a Dorset village. The village provides an idyllic setting with an English country cottage as Anna prepares to write a second novel.

Sarah Diamond develops her tale from such innocuous beginnings towards a shatteringly scary climax. Anna, not surprisingly, finds it hard to adjust to country life while her husband is away at work. She has an ambivalent attitude to her writing but does want to write a second novel so the discovery of the infamous nature of the woman from whom they had purchased the house gives her the spark of an idea.

The story will be of this previous inhabitant of the cottage who had, as a ten-year-old, murdered a friend many years before. Anna plans a novel about a similar character but not an expose of the 'real' murder by Rebecca. The gathering of information about Rebecca is cleverly orchestrated as one source leads on to another.

At the same time details of Anna's own earlier life and her current experiences in the village are interspersed with her researches. The research leads her from the obvious beginning at the British Newspaper Library in Colindale to interviews with teachers, social workers, prison guards and others who knew the girl. These people's knowledge stopped when the girl was given a new identity and disappeared from the media.

Gradually an uneasy atmosphere becomes a threatening one and Anna faces it alone. She cannot stop her investigation and is now obsessed by the story of the notorious child murderess, Rebecca, even though threats to her are escalating. The author cleverly develops the theme and weaves in intriguing twists affecting Anna's views of the reality of Rebecca's character and motives. This is a well-crafted book with suspense carefully maintained.

Reviewed by Jennifer S. Palmer, July 2004

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