A Dirty Deaththe End

Rebecca Tope, Author Minotaur Books $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-26144-3
This assured, densely textured novel, set in rural England, hardly seems a debut effort. The Beardon family farm, Redstone, gets by quite handily under the guiding hand of Guy Beardon, a passionate man known for his intellect and an acidic tongue that keeps neighbors at a distance. Sam Carter, a former student of his, is now his chief aide. Guy's wife, Miranda, and son, Roddy, provide minor assistance, while daughter Lilah is the apple of his eye and a major helper. Guy's awful death in a slurry pit at the beginning of the tale appears to be an accident, but further violence suggests it was not. His demise begins an unraveling of life at Redstone that threatens to overwhelm its inhabitants. Tope takes what appears to be a list of stock characters--a stalwart RAF type, the local vicar, a bickering couple, the doltish farmhand, an adulterous wife, the town gossip--and imbues them with fresh definition. And shrewdly, she offers neither a clever police detective nor a bumbling one. Except for Constable Den Cooper, who provides Lilah a romantic foil, the police stay mostly in the background while Tope's large and memorable cast play out their parts with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
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