Rebecca Tope, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/ Dunne $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-30260-3

British author Tope's return to Devonshire for a follow-up to A Dirty Death (2000) is every bit as good as the first. She creates a devastating portrait of one of England's distressed farming communities and manages to turn a sprawling farmyard crime scene into the absorbing equivalent of a locked-room mystery. The brutal death of herdsman Sean O'Farrell at Dunsworthy Farm surprises no one, and almost no one mourns his death. Still, there's only one obvious suspect, and only a few more even possible. Det. Sergeant Den Cooper would be only too happy to see farm owner Gordon Hillcock hanged for the crime, for Hillcock is the new lover of Lilah Beardon, Den's former girl. The conflict of interest is evident to everyone, but Den stays on the case with instructions to do absolutely everything by the book. The crime scene itself has been hopelessly muddled and mucked, witnesses are nonexistent and a confession is unlikely, so the dogged police work of endless interviews is about all that's left—interviews that peel off layers of history and tangled relationships and distorted versions of reality. Tope creates some truly memorable characters in the process, from the unlovely victim to his wife and daughter, each of whom has learned to cope in a unique way. Tope's English farm setting and characters may lack the charm of the traditional country-house mystery, but they will linger much longer in the reader's memory. (June 12)

Reviewed on: 05/12/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 183 pages - 978-0-7490-4043-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 509 pages - 978-0-7490-4038-3
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-6657-7
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-4596-7850-7
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