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.
Successful TV presenter: smart, articulate; indulgent financier husband, enchanting daughter, perfect house, chauffeur-driven car. All too good to last for Gaby Mortimer has a stalker, her husband is deeply troubled – and she stumbles on a corpse while running on the common.
There have to be connections between these situations (coincidences occur only in real life) and to the cops it’s obvious. Gaby is the link, and she’s arrested for murder. Despite her insistence that the dead woman was a stranger, she was wearing Gaby’s clothes, had bought stuff on her credit card, and there were traces from Gaby’s garden in the victim’s flat. But if she is innocent who in her circle harbours enough hatred to set her up for murder?
There is a plethora of suspects: her colleagues at the studio where competition for her job is savage, the neighbours in her leafy suburb, courteous but only faintly supportive, her dour and secretive nanny, the stalker. Without her husband to turn to, unwilling to burden him with her problems when he is away making money in Singapore, trapped in the terrifying feeding frenzy of the media, Gaby elicits the aid of the one journalist who appears to be honest, agreeing to give him in-depth interviews if he will help her find the killer, so letting her off the hook.
An absorbing story with sustainable characters. Durrant makes suburban London quite enjoyable, luscious and glossy coating on a nouveau rich cake. You read voraciously; monologues which in another book would be padding here build an edifice brick by brick, revealing the nature of a desperately loyal and passionate woman flayed raw by events. And when, towards the end, the crescendo fizzing and sputtering like a long fuse, the climax comes, it’s shattering.