The Long Shadow

Written by Celia Fremlin

Review written by Andrew Hill

A former Customs and Police Officer, Andrew Hill is just putting the finishing touches to the first book in a crime series set in the New Forest, where he lived for 30 years. An avid reader across the crime genre and regular at Crimefest, he now lives in West Sussex and works in property.


The Long Shadow
Faber & Faber
RRP: £8.99
Released: November 01, 2018
Pbk

Imogen Barnicott is still in mourning for Ivor, her thrice married, much-published and admired Classics scholar of a husband, who was killed in a car crash.

Ivor was a larger than life character, who revelled in the plaudits of his published works and the approbation and adulation of his peers and pupils. He also enjoyed the constant queue of women, who bought into his public face without knowing the real man that Imogen had to live with.

As Christmas nears, naturally people rally round her. Only this is going to be a ‘wake up in a cold sweat’ kind of Christmas for Imogen. Uninvited and unwanted guests of the worst kind descend on her … family!

Ivor’s second wife, Cynthia, arrives from America on the pretext of Ivor’s death in someway bonding them.

Up pops stepson, Robin. The wastrel with one eye on a place to stay and the other on his inheritance, dragging along a girl called Piggy with him.

Lastly comes Dot, the stepdaughter with her husband, Herbert and their pair of bratty children. The children indulge in a constant ronde of bickering with each other and pleading with Granny Imogen whilst the parents snipe at each other across the ‘no mans land’ of their marriage.

The author enables us to peer back through time’s telescope, to when there was none of today’s technology and families made their own ‘fun’. However, fun can hardly be a byword, and neither is love and respect in this Christmas home.

Imogen is haunted by a chance meeting and phone call accusing her of killing her husband. She knows that her alibi is as threadbare as the family ties that she’s having to endure and that her life could unravel with alarming speed. When it seems that the spirit of her recently deceased husband may not have entirely shuffled off this mortal coil, a welcome supernatural element is laid alongside what may be murder.

The story was first published in 1975 and the author delivers a well-developed sense of a woman trapped by both her obligations and a momentary error in judgement. 



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