Robert Barnard, one of the great contemporary masters of classic mystery, returns with a brilliant new tale of passion and deception.
Well-known actress Caroline Fawley has given up a successful stage and television career for love and life in the country. International business titan Marius Fleetwood can't marry her. He already has a wife, though he claims they are "just friends." But Marius has done something very special for Caroline: he has "bought" her Alderley, an elegant country home. If he should die, he's arranged to leave her enough money to maintain the extensive house and gardens.
Of course, some inquisitive villagers would be happier if Caroline and Marius were respectably wed. People in small towns know all, and they will talk, especially about a glamorous actress. Caroline's adolescent children, Stella and Alexander, seem to accept Marius's weekend visits without distress. And older daughter Olivia, an opera singer on the rise, is too involved in her own career and romantic intrigues to express much interest in her mother's personal life.
Caroline is happy and the world is good. Until one day when Caroline's life begins to fall apart. First, a mysterious young man backpacking his way through the countryside arrives at the door. He says his name is Peter Bagshaw, but Caroline sees instantly that he must be related to Marius; perhaps he's even his son.
What else has Marius hidden from Caroline? Who is this man, Marius Fleetwood? Is everything about him a lie?
When a murder occurs, detectives Mike Oddie and Charlie Peace must probe the lives of numerous suspects who had good reason to kill. As always in a Barnard mystery, the fun is in the details, the characters, the twists. With big houses, wealth, opera, and obsessive devotion as some of his ingredients, Robert Barnard gives us a witty, richly nuanced novel worthy of the crime-writing star that he is.