Scribner, May 2008, $24.00
In the town of Crossley in Yorkshire, England Eve McNabb has just come home from viewing her late mother May prior to the funeral. Eve knows her mom was adored by her students and their parents, which makes her grief a bit easier. Eve has a ton of condolence letters to peruse and respond to; but when she opens one from a stranger named Jean, she is stunned as she insists she and her mom had an affair. Her not so subtle implication shakes the mourning woman to her core.
Although she knew her mother was a very private person, Eve wonders why she never questioned her mom about her father John McGrath who disappeared in Australia without an apparent warning as far she knows to her late mom. Needing to know what happened when she was two, Eve interrogates everyone she assumes knew Meg and John back then including former headmistress Evelyn Southwick when her mom was a deputy working under her. Her need to know sends Eve to Australia to meet her father whom she forgives once she hears his side of the breakup. She is called back to England by the police who believe that Eve has information from her inquiries that could help them on an investigation in which Evelyn was murdered.
Renowned for his suspense thrillers filled with surprising but plausible twists, Robert Barnard uses master magician misdirection to lure the readers down the wrong path so that the connections that seem evident turn out to be not so obvious. Eve is a fully developed protagonist who grieves at the same time her image of her beloved mom has been tattered yet she needs to know the truth if she is to gain any closure. Her inquisitiveness makes this family suspense drama entertaining.