A City of Strangers

Robert Barnard, Author Scribner Book Company $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19192-8
In this droll study of Yorkshire town life in Thatcherite England, Barnard ( Bodies ) dishes up the suspense with Christie-like skill. Something is rotten in the Belfield Grove Estate--namely, Jack Phelan, a member of the ``new underclass: riotous, savage, with nothing to lose.'' Phelan has sired six unwashed youths in order to get more beer money from the government's coffers. That his mostly illiterate offspring include a violent fascist and a child prostitute is fine with him. A trial to all its neighbors, the family is despised but tolerated--until Phelan wins at the races and announces his plans to share his presence with the middle class by moving to Wynton Lane. Not too unexpectedly, a murder disrupts his economic ascension--his own. With estimable craftmanship, Barnard has created a feisty melange of characters, none of whom appear brazen enough to commit a felony, making them all the more likely suspects. There's a mild-mannered academic; a fragile beauty who's spent many a year in bed snipping out photos of the royal family; and a supermarket manager and would-be yuppie. Sadly, the resolution of the murder is farfetched, yet almost forgivable considering the high quality of the rest of the work. Mystery Guild main selection. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-440-20750-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7451-5773-3
Hardcover - 317 pages - 978-1-56054-111-0
Paperback - 206 pages - 978-1-4472-3978-9
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4767-3397-5
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