A mother's desire to protect her children from the truth of their father's death lies at the center of this intense psychological thriller by British author Francis (Night Sky), which opens with the funeral service of former parliament member Harry Richmond. Ellen, whose husband, Harry, has been missing at sea for months and is presumed dead, assumes the role of grieving widow in her upper-class London social and political set. At the funeral Ellen meets mysterious and handsome Richard Moreland, a military colleague of Harry's from their days of service in the Falkland Islands, who takes a special interest in Ellen and is intent on uncovering the truth about the lost yacht and Harry's death. Though Ellen insists Harry committed suicide because of his political setbacks and his escalating debt, a murder investigation ensues. In addition to the criminal case, which threatens to blot her husband's image and harm the children's future, Ellen also learns of Harry's dubious financial dealings with a Romanian orphanage charity. Plagued by scandal, pressured by the police for details and concerned about her 15-year-old daughter, Katie, who acts out violently in school, and her son, Josh, a somber nine year old, Ellen treads uneasy waters yet remains brave and stoic throughout. As the details of Harry's death are slowly revealed, the reader moves from sympathy for Ellen to suspicion that she might not be entirely innocent; the author delivers the final revelation with great energy and seamless fluidity. Francis's evocative prose and sinuous suspense will make American readers thrilled she's crossed the Atlantic. (June)
Forecast: Deceit was a #1 bestseller in England and has been adapted by the BBC for television. It may get off to a slower start here, but word of mouth and an author tour should help it make a strong showing.
Release date: 06/01/2001