Sarah Fortune goes to a small seaside town in Norfolk to straighten out inheritance issues for the Pardoe family. Three siblings and an apparently demented mother own most of Merton-on-Sea. For Sarah the job offers the opportunity to get away for a little time at least from a claustrophobic relationship with her boss's step-son. The inheritance issue isn't all that needs straightening out and tidying up. The town has its own secrets: the death by drowning two years before of a woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to Sarah and an elderly thief with a thatch of white hair whom everyone refers to as "the ghost".
This isn't simple crime fiction. Frances Fyfield brings to her story telling an embellished literary style that demands that the reader see the world through the eyes of the main characters. This will undoubtedly mean that many readers will find it heavy going. You get the impression of a carefully crafted story, when the language is every bit as important as the action.
Sarah Fortune herself is a real conundrum: "perfectly pure and good", she at times uses her own body to bring solace to men whom she likes. She does not see this as amoral behaviour, even though the reader might.
My rating: 4.3
This was the second in Frances Fyfield's Sarah Fortune series:
- Shadows On the Mirror (1989)
- Perfectly Pure and Good (1994)
- Staring At the Light (1999)
- Looking Down (2004)
- Safer Than Houses (2005)
In 2008 she won the Duncan Lawrie Gold Dagger for BLOOD FROM A STONE.