Isabel receives a call from her goddaughter Emily in prison whom she has not met in years. Emily was just four when they last met. So it is no surprise that Emily is changed and Isabel is not able to recognise her. But it is a shock for Emily to see the shaven head and obese girl who had not had a bath in days. After her mother's death, Emily had been living with her friends in a tent on a site taken up for road construction and got involved with the demonstrators. Isabel bails her and takes her home. Isabel feels responsible for Emily, at the same time is reluctant to make her open up about her past.
Godfrey Sutton, a small time crook, is back to the village, where he seduced young and naive Alice. He hoped to marry her and enjoy her inheritance. All didn't go according to plan. After four years, he just wants to check up on Alice. And when he finds Alice has a four year old daughter, he is sure that she is his child and wants to make most out of the situation by demanding money from the aging grandparents. These two quirky characters, Emily and Godfrey, move the story forward. Emily has some secrets. She does not open up about her past. What happened in her past? How did she end up with the demonstrators? What happened to her extended family? Will Godfrey be successful in his mission? Has he at last found his perfect money-making scheme? How will Alice protect her child?
I liked the writing style of Yorke. The opening was interesting and got me hooked immediately. The opening line is
She wanted to scream.
Short and powerful, I think. I couldn't help comparing the writing style and characterisation to my favourite writer Ruth Rendell. Like Rendell, Yorke introduces her characters and the story flows from their character. But I do think Rendell's book are more intense and many times short. Secrets play a huge role in this story. Everybody keeps secrets from everybody else complicating a simple issue.
I found the last one third repetitive. We already know the secrets and when they are divulged to each character again, I lost interest. The end was not as satisfying as the beginning was promising. I had almost similar problem with A Case to answer by Margret Yorke. I loved the characters especially Isabel and Douglas. Douglas with his DIY obsessions, ready criticism and cynicism was spot on.
Absent fathers seem to be playing a huge role in the crime fiction books I had been reading lately. Yorke seems to say bad father is better absent. This book was published in 1998. This is my post for Crime Fiction Alphabet Y.