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by Ann Cleeves
Macmillan, January 2005
400 pages
ISBN: 1405046473

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Emma Bennett's life changed drastically ten years previously when she discovered the body of her best friend. Abigail Mantel was 15 years old. She and Emma were the two new kids in school, and both were misfits. Emma was shy and retiring and Abigail was the spoiled only child of a wealthy widower.

Keith Mantel's young girlfriend, Jeanie Long, had moved into his home and Abigail vowed to get her out. She was pleased when she managed to do just that. But Jeanie was arrested for Abigail's murder; she had no alibi and was convicted. Ten years later a witness has come forward who saw her in London on the day of the killing; too late, however, for Jeanie has hanged herself in prison.

Inspector Vera Stanhope and her sergeant are sent to make fresh inquiries. Now that Jeanie's innocence has been established there is a killer on the loose who thought they had gotten away with murder. Vera hates the village of Elvet, the flat and monotonous landscape, the constant wind and rain. She can't wait to solve the case and return to the hills of her home.

Everyone Vera contacts in her investigation seems to have some baggage. Emma, although she is married and the mother of an infant, is still a dreamy, na´ve young woman who has fantasies about the potter who keeps his shop across the road. Her husband, James, is very private, thoughtful and considerate, but why does Vera think he is hiding something.

Emma's parents, who moved Emma and her young brother to Elvet from York ten years earlier, are a little strange too. Why did Robert get religion so suddenly and change professions? And what about Jeanie's father, Michael Long, who believed his daughter capable of murder?

Ann Cleeves weaves her magic spell again in this story set on a brooding and windswept peninsula. Even the wind and weather are characters. As always, all of her characters are rich and vibrant, the writing is smooth and seductive. She pulls you into the story and doesn't let you go; you will want to stay up late to finish this book. Or better yet, put aside an entire day and read it through in one sitting. The author also writes the Inspector Ramsey series, as well as other novels of psychological suspense.

Reviewed by Lorraine Gelly, February 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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