A veteran crime writer with seven Edgar nominations, Barnard ( A Scandal in Belgravia ) here crafts another gem. Supt. Mike Oddie and Det. Charlie Peace of the West Yorkshire Police are in the village of Bly investigating the strangling of Lydia Perceval, 50ish author of bestselling ``shapely, aesthetically satisfying'' biographies. A cold manipulator, Lydia had alienated her nephews Gavin and Maurice from their parents, married the brother of the man she loved (and ended the marriage when her husband didn't measure up to her high standards) and had lately cultivated the two teenage sons of a sick mother and workaholic father. She'd even decided to leave the new boys some money before she was murdered. Oddie and Peace must work through the stories of the locals (a spooning couple see a bearded stranger near Lydia's house) and Lydia's kin (the ex-husband newly moved to a nearby farm; her sister Thea, still devastated by Gavin's death in the Falklands war) to trace the murderer. The book's pleasure comes from Barnard's easy use of police procedures, his subtle characterization and his eye for village color. Lydia is a delicious monster, and the ambiguous ending delivers an extra kick. Readers Digest Condensed Books selection; Mystery Guild main selection; paperback rights to Avon. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1992 Release date: 08/01/1992 Genre: Fiction
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