The Director's Cut

Lis Howell, Author
Lis Howell, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-340-61699-4
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-340-64908-4
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Between projects, and with her relationship with Reverend John Maple on the skids, London TV producer Kate Wilkinson (returning from Howell's After the Break) travels to a village in the famously bucolic Lake District to work on an independent film about rural regeneration. Expecting peace and country charm, she encounters instead two deaths--of a much-hated senior citizen and of a presumed suicide--that point to murder, an illegal and sadistic dogfighting ring and a proposed theme park that has the entire village divided. Kate realizes that any number of twisted locals--all of whom seem to be related--could have been involved in the deaths. Discretion is not her strong suit, and she is soon at loggerheads with the film's volatile director, with the smarmy manager of the local tourist center and with a village official whose charisma she finds nearly irresistible. Howell overuses some plot devices--no less than three characters are conveniently ""in hospital""--but she shows a steady hand, leavening the suspense with humor. When Kate decides that her little film should show the town's dark side, what started out as a lightly diverting sudser turns into a wickedly delicious commentary on the rot that can underlie a picture-postcard facade. (Jan.)
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