Kate Charles, Author CRUEL HABITATIONSKate Charles $28 (438p) ISBN 978-0-316-64622-2

With her rich cast of well-developed characters and eloquent prose, British author Charles (Strange Children; Unruly Passions; etc.) once again creates an absorbing mystery sure to appeal to traditional Anglophiles. Sophie and Chris Lilburn leave their London life for the cathedral town of Westmead, where Chris will teach history in the cathedral school and be lay clerk in the cathedral choir. Living in a rent-free house in Quire Close, two rows of stone medieval terraced houses, in the shadow of the majestic cathedral should be idyllic, but for Sophie it's anything but. Due to her inability to have a child, her loving relationship with Chris begins to deteriorate. Sophie has little in common with her neighbors, particularly the lecherous Leslie Clunch, retired verger, and the arrogant Elspeth Verey, widow of the prior dean and dictator of Westmead's social standards. Sophie finds her only distraction is contemplating the unsolved murder of an unidentified young woman who was killed in the town 11 years earlier. When Jacquie Darke arrives in Westmead in search of her long-missing sister, Alison, Sophie joins Jacquie in uncovering what lies behind the town's prim and proper façade. Cold rain, gallons of tea and eccentric characters generate a cozy Barbara Pym–like atmosphere, while café latte, mobile phones and the problems of modernizing medieval houses root the story firmly in the present. This is for genteel readers who appreciate a hint of sex. Agent, Carol Heaton. (May 15)

Reviewed on: 04/16/2001
Release date: 10/01/2000
Paperback - 515 pages - 978-0-7515-2533-5
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4055-2346-2
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