Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.
If the turgid style can be accepted an intriguing plot is promised but it remains obscure, hinted at by coy glimpses only. This unwieldy tome is in three parts: an introduction when a sinister farmer confronts a young Asian woman followed by the bulk of the story decades later.
This last is interspersed with titillating computer print-outs, each section featuring crimes, guilt, victims and mental illness. So what's new? Nothing much, except that the author is German as is her translator, the result being a work in the style of a romantic novel which accords curiously with murder and the desolation of a severely retarded orphan evacuated to a Yorkshire hill farm in World War Two.
Background research is evident but jerkily off-beam where sheep farming is concerned, and the police are stylised, murders investigated by just one DI and his sergeant, armed as a matter of course. This is a novel that falls between stools: dark Teutonic and "Cold Comfort Farm".