Katherine Armstrong has worked in publishing for over six years. She is a crime fiction Editor for an independent publishing company in London.
In Milford, Connecticut, Glen Barber’s life is turned on its head after his wife is killed in a car accident. Forced to confront the fact that it looks like his wife was a secret alcoholic, he struggles to maintain a life of normality for his eight year old daughter, Kelly, whilst rebuffing attempts from his overbearing, rich mother-in-law to take her away from him.
But there’s also something sinister going on in quiet Milford. The local community has been hit badly by the financial crisis, but the town’s wives have a plan or two up their sleeves to make ends meet – the problem is it turns out to be deadlier than expected and soon the body count begins to rise…
Then Glen faces problems of his own when he begins to question the official verdict on his wife’s accident. But who can he turn to when he can’t even trust those closest to him?
In The Accident Linwood Barclay writes brilliantly about the desperation felt by small communities who can no longer rely on an income or credit to survive. While some of the characters are intensely irritating – Glen’s next door neighbour Joan is a slightly clichéd desperate widow who rather tackily hones in on him just weeks after his wife has died – you do become interested in the mess they’ve managed to create and wonder how they’re going to disentangle themselves from it all.
I think that what makes it a compelling read is that the scenario is entirely plausible. Perhaps not the killer on the loose but certainly the desperate measures people will go to in order to be able to keep their house. When it becomes clear that some of the women have branched out from selling knock-off handbags to dealing in cut price pharmaceuticals it opens the narrative out to make the link with organised crime and for Barclay to discuss the very real problem that such organisations cause to the financial markets and society as a whole. It’s interesting to see, when people are pushed, how quickly their moral judgements leave them and how far they’ll go to maintain their well kept images of suburban contentment.