With At Death's Door, Barnard gives us two of his best characters ever: Benedict Cotterel, a former sexual rake and one of the great novelists of his generation, who now lies fading from life on what promises to be his deathbed; and Benedict's one-time mistress, Dame Myra Mason, a renowned and temperamental actress, mother of Cotterel's illegitimate daughter, Cordelia. Myra hates Benedict, who one put a nasty but all-too-true version of her into one of his novels. Myra took Benedict to court to stop its publications, and she's never forgiven him for making her look the fool.Cordelia hates Myra for being a terrible mother. Always the performer, Myra consistently destroyed whatever self-confidence her child might have had.Benedict appears to be too far gone to hate anybody. But he does have his good days, when he's able to pick up his tape recorder and dictate new wills eliminating his nearest and supposedly dearest.In contrast to the passionate triangle of Myra, Cordelia, and Benedict, we have Benedict's son, Roderick Cotterel, headmaster of a school for the handicapped. Roderick and his wife preside over their home, the Old Rectory, as a relative haven of peace in a topsy-turvy world.When long-lost half-sister Cordelia arrives to camp out on Roderick's lawn and Myra and her new husband descend on the nearby Red Lion pub fora three-day stay, the little village of Maudsley catapults into turmoil.
Rosemary Sheffield has a sort of "reverse epiphany" one day while walking in the park: she no longer believes in God. This sudden loss of faith is at first entirely liberating, but the situation gradually becomes more complicated. Rosemary is, after all, the beloved wife of the vicar at St. Saviour's parish. A storm of controversy erupts in her husband's church congregation, but Rosemary, with the words "I do not believe," leaves behind the scandal and gossip for a seaside sojourn in Scarborough. Here she meets Stanko, a Bosnian refugee who illegally entered the country. But what begins as a supportive friendship launches an ungodly chain of events--and Rosemary soon finds herself back at home caught up in a murder investigation.
Old church meets new with a vengeance when a monk is brutally murdered at St. Botolph's. Murder wasn't on the agenda for the symposium on the role of the Anglican Church today--until a brother is found dead in his cell. Suddenly the diverse guest list falls under suspicion. Could it be the bishop famous for his television appearances or his exotic counterpart from Africa; one of the three vicars who run the gamut from trendy to traditional; the nondenominational American with a passion for fundraising; or perhaps one of the two Norwegian lady divines? Or is it one of the brothers themselves, taking advantage of the camouflage provided by outside visitors? Surely the tensions between the cloistered clergy and their more worldly visitors can't have led to such an unthinkable occurrence. But why is Father Anselm, the austere head of the Anglican Community, so reluctant to allow an investigation? Is he concerned simply about unfavourable publicity? Or is there a darker secret hidden behind the inscrutable walls of St. Botolph's?
Four dead bodies are found in a Soho studio, they were of : a former body builder, a studying actress and a photographer and his assistant. Perry Trethowan of London's C.I.D. was unable to find a link or any reason for these murders to have occurred, yet he has to go deeper into the investigation. He finds himself quickly caught up in a sordid world of a competitive body builder. He employs a black gym manager to work undercover and Trethowan investigated further into the case - yet the investigations progress seems to hinder and what he does discover seems unikley.
Matt Harper, a television and radio personality and a former professional soccer player, has just bought Elderholm, an old stone house in Leeds in the north of England. It's ideal for him, his partner Aileen, and her three children. Even the attic space seems just right -- the perfect place for a game room or a children's retreat. But as Matt and his decorator tour the property, they find something that will put the attic off-limits for a long time to come: a tiny child's skeleton that has clearly been there for years. What happened to the child, and how did its skeleton get into the attic?Detective Sergeant Charlie Peace and his forensic team think the child's remains have been in the attic for thirty years. Thirty years? Matt remembers that time. It was 1969 and he was seven years old. He was in the neighborhood, spending the summer with an aunt. That was the summer that Elderholm's owner left her house empty when she went to visit a daughter in Australia. What happened that summer? What memories lie deep in Matt's consciousness? Where are the other children from that summer who now, of course, are adults? Who killed the little child and why was he or she never reported missing? And who has now written to Matt, assuring him that he had no part in what occurred, that he had gone home to London before it happened?As Matt struggles to recover his memory of that strange summer, both he and Charlie Peace ponder what it means to love and lose a child and how one thoughtless decision can change a life forever. Richly evocative and deeply poignant, The Bones in the Attic is crime writing at its best from one of the great contemporary masters of mystery.
Superintendent Perry Trethowan was enjoying a peaceful motoring holiday in North Yorkshire when he and his wife, Jan, had a strange encounter in a country pub. The seemingly unremarkable elderly spinster who introduced herself as Miss Edith Wing, a retired schoolmistress, proceeded to produce form her capacious blue handbag a yellowing manuscript - and claimed that it was part of an undiscovered novel by one of the Brontë sisters. Was it a clever forgery, or the literary sensation of the century? What started out as a harmless holiday diversion for the superintendent turned into a hunt for a vicious attacker as both Miss Wing and Perry himself found themselves in deadly danger.
Robert Barnard, the internationally acclaimed Diamond Dagger-winning crime writer, dissects family bonds at their best and worst in this stunning novel of suspense. What an honor--to become trustee of an English stately home museum. Yorkshire Detective Inspector Charlie Peace's wife, Felicity, is initially thrilled when she's asked to join the board that oversees Walbrook Manor, an eighteenth-century mansion that's now part of a charitable trust. She's in for some surprises. With its shabby salons and drafty hallways, Walbrook shows signs of the financial burden it caused its recent owners, members of the related Quarles and Fiennes families, known more for feuds than for affectionate familial ties. They are known also for shadowy intrigues, great and small, some of which may emerge now that Walbrook and its archives are open to the public. The revelations could be devastating . . . and dangerous. Rupert Fiennes and Sir Stafford Quarles represent two lines of Walbrook's lords of the manor. Rupert seems relieved to have relinquished the estate to charitable hands, while Sir Stafford clings with perhaps unseemly pride to his position as chairman of the Walbrook Manor Trust Board. A tentative peace reigns, but when the wreck of a car and the remains of a body turn up in a nearby lake, it soon becomes clear that one of Walbrook's grimmest secrets may date to the years between the two world wars and may involve something much worse than mere malice. With police resources focused on more timely cases, Charlie and Felicity are left to discover that old sins are never forgotten, that "family" means more than a slot on the ancestral tree, and that sometimes there can be a good reason for murder. Suspenseful, witty, and, as always, superbly insight-ful, A Charitable Body shows acclaimed master of mystery Robert Barnard at his clever best.
Norway in cherry blossom time seemed exactly the right place to hold a conference of the World Association of Romantic Novelists (WARN for short). Superintendent Perry Trethowan wondered at times how he had allowed his sister to 'con' him into accompanying her to the conference but he finally decided that his role was to be one of amused detachment and observation, most especially of the two Queens of the Conference - frothy, gushy, lethal Amanda Fairchild, the British challenger, and the vast, malevolent Lorelei Zuckerman from America. What Perry had not been prepared for was a body - one clothed in billowing pink, with a bough of cherry blossom carefully placed on the corpse. It was a most unusual murder, in a most unusual place. This book was also published under the title "Death in Purple Prose."
With A City of Strangers, award-winning novelist Robert Barnard, acclaimed for his quick wit and astute insight into the vagaries of class distinction and human foible, achieves a new level of mastery. He also creates one of his most memorable characters ever: the dreadful Jack Phelan. Dirty, potbellied, vulgar, selfish, Jack is a man everyone loves to hate. And the rest of his family isn't much better. The wife is slatternly, the teenaged children flirt with petty crime and prostitution, even the baby is unpleasant. Only twelve-year-old Michael Phelan seems to have escaped the family curse, and it may be just a question of time until he, too, sinks to the Phelan level. For years the infamous Phelans, known with equal horror to the Social Security office and the local school, have lived in slovenly squalor in their council house in the run-down Belfield Grove Estate in the northern English city of Sleate. The Phelans' infamy has even penetrated the middle-class bastion of respectability, Wynton Lane, where six imposing Victorian stone houses stand in fearful isolation next to Belfield Grove. Wynton Lane and Belfield Grove have only their unfortunate proximity in common until the fateful day when the Phelans come to call. It seems that Jack has won big on the pools, and he's thinking of buying one of the six houses. Nothing so exciting has ever happened on Wynton Lane, and the homeowners hope it never will again. Until now barely nodding acquaintances the Wynton Lane residents call an urgent meeting to map an emergency strategy. What can they do to stop Jack Phelan? What indeed? The Wynton Lane people have always thought of themselves as law-abiding, but they soon discover that malice can take on a momentum of its own, a momentum that can even lead to murder. Shocking, mesmerizing, incisive, A City of Strangers leaves a deep impression on the reader and confirms the artistry of a superb novelist in his prime.
Masterly mystery writer Robert Barnard transports us to the Yorkshire town of Haworth, once home to the literary Brontës, now a crowded tourist mecca, for The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori, which begins with the shocking discovery of a young man's strangled body in an Indian Tandoori restaurant parking lot. Who is the victim, and how did he come to meet this untimely fate? Detective Constable Charlie Peace and Detective Superintendent Mike Oddie's search for answers soon leads them to Ashworth, a nearby artists' colony, where young Irishman Declan O'Hearn had recently sought work as a handyman. No ordinary place, Ashworth is something of a shrine to once-renowned painter Ranulph Byatt, an egotistic man who craves adulation from his inferiors and resists the judgment of his peers. To the surprise of all and the jealousy of some, Declan O'Hearn is one of the rare people Byatt welcomes into his studio and allows to watch him paint. Charlie Peace, an experienced police officer and always a favorite among Barnard's readers, has rarely encountered such tense undercurrents as he finds at Ashworth, and he's perhaps never been among a group of people so ill-matched. They live in supposed community but lead uniquely warped lives. How does young Declan, inexperienced in the ways of the world, seeking his first great adventure, fit into this dangerous mix? Charlie suspects Declan found more than adventure at Ashworth. Following in Declan's footsteps, he searches for the incredible story behind the body in the parking lot and the sad facts behind the destroyed hopes of a youthful wanderer. With the kind of classic twist that only Barnard can provide, The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori evokes memories of such Barnard masterpieces as Death by Sheer Torture while claiming its own place in the Barnard body of work as a powerful, insightful, witty, and always superbly entertaining novel of suspense.
Chetton Hall was one of the glories of Jacobean domestic architecture, and the Spenders had lived in Chetton ever since their founder had peculated the money to build it while he was the King's Secretary of Monopolies. Over the years they had accumulated accrustations of dignity, to say nothing of wealth. Which made it doubly shocking when the Earldom descended to Percy Spender, who was 'not quite', not to mention his family, who were not at all.When the family descends on Chetton for his sixtieth birthday, accompanied by various hangers-on, their main obsession is to discover his intentions for the future of the place. Hardly less interested is his man of business, and his neighbours, who feel sadly the diminished glory of the house. The Spenders, in fact, have always felt like birds in a guilded cage at Chetton. Before the celebrations are over, one of the birds is a very dead duck indeed. The traditional country house party murder is turned on its head, given a few twists, and ends up much reinvigorated in this witty and lively whodunit by a writer who, as described in The Times Literary Supplement, 'can write most under the table with one hand behind his back.'
Master of mystery Robert Barnard, internationally acclaimed for his suspenseful, witty literary gems, cleverly mixes past and present inA Cry from the Dark,an intriguing tour de force sweeping from 1930s Australia to contemporary London. Bettina Whitelaw has come a long way from her childhood in the little outback town of Bundaroo, Australia. Many years have passed, a lifetime really, but she's never forgotten what happened there on the evening that changed her life forever. How could she forget the school dance, her taunting classmates, dancing with the strange but brilliant English boy, Hughie Naismyth? How could she forget what happened next, when, overheated and exhilarated by the music and the moment, she wandered off alone into a secluded, wooded area?Now a renowned, elderly author living in London's elegant Holland Park, Bettina faces a flood of memories as she works on her memoirs, even though her focus is more on the frightening things that are happening today. Someone has recently entered her home and gone through her desk. The intruder is clearly not an ordinary burglar. It must be someone she knows. She's been a little lax in handing out keys, so the suspects are many -- her nephew, Mark; her agent, Clare; her friends, Peter or Katie. Or it could be someone else. What does Bettina possess that this person would want to steal? A puzzle that at first seems mildly disturbing soon turns deadly serious. Someone is willing to kill -- but why? Does the answer rest in Bundaroo or nearer to home?A Cry from the Darkshows us vintage Robert Barnard as he slyly lays the clues that lead to his trademark surprise -- and poignant -- ending.
At the Ketterick Arts Festival, the apprentice is just about the only fella that is chaste, know what I mean (wink wink nudge nudge)? Ah, the pleasures of smutty innuendo, and no one relishes them more than Des Capper, a font of dubious gossip and unwanted advice. To the horror of the actors and singers performing at the Festival, Des has been promoted to landlord of the Saracen's Head, the Elizabethan inn that is at the Festival's heart. And when Des toddles off to meet his maker - courtesy of someone's helpful shove - only his wretched wife can summon up a tear. Readers, meanwhile, will have trouble containing their snickers at the wickedly witty characterizations.
Superintendent Perry Trethowan was used to cases that involved people in high places, and in this one he finds himself at the top of the tree - among the British royals. A Princess, albeit only a minuscule royal offshoot, with a snug little apartment in Kensington Palace and a snug little sum on the Civil List, is threatened - but by whom, why, and exactly what is uncertain. Her circle consists mostly of boy-friends, and they are a motley lot, drawn from the worlds of politics, the stage, even the football field. But are they endangered too or are they part of the threat? The Princess (fresh as morning dew, and much more treacherous) trips gaily through the minefield, while around her men keep dying. But blood will out, especially blue blood, and by the time Perry Trethowan gets to the bottom of the case, a murderer has been brought to justice and not a few reputations tremble in the scales.
Perry Trethowan, a successful young police inspector, is called in to assist unofficially in the investigation of his father's kinky murder.
It was midday on December 21st in the city of Tromsø when the boy was last seen - a tall, blond boy swathed in anorak and scarf against the Arctic noon. After that he wasn't seen again, not until three months later, when Professor Mackenzie's dog started sniffing around in the snow and uncovered a human ear - attached to a naked corpse. Nobody knew who he was, or where he had come from. And after three months it was almost impossible to track down the identity of the corpse. But Inspector Fagermo refused to give up - and as he probed deeper into the Arctic city he began to discover a dangerous conspiracy of blackmail, espionage, and cold-blooded murder.
There were two Mrs Machins, relicts of the talented working-class writer Walter Machin, who was just about to be immortalised by the literary establishment. Viola was large, overbearing and, even in her seventies, still voluptuous. Hilda, the first (and divorced) Mrs Machin, was perky, sharp and the guardian of the deceased Walter's literary papers. For ten years the two 'widows' had lived together in the same house, not speaking to each other, but jealously guarding his memory and literary reputation. But before the Machin legend could really take off, there was a fire - and a murder. One of the Mrs Machins was silenced for good, and slowly, from the past, emerged a fascinating and intriguing assortment of characters. Somewhere, in their memories of Walter Machin, lay the catastrophic secret that had led to murder. This book was also published under the title "Posthumous Papers."
Sir Oliver Fairleigh-Stubbs, overweight and overbearing, collapses and dies at his birthday party while indulging his taste for rare liquors. He had promised his daughter he would be polite and charitable for the entire day, but the strain of such exemplary behavior was obviously too great. He leaves a family relieved to be rid of him, and he also leaves a fortune, earned as a bestselling mystery author. To everyone's surprise, Sir Oliver's elder son, who openly hated his father, inherits most of the estate. His wife, his daughter, and his younger son are each to receive the royalties from one carefully chosen book. But the manuscript of the unpublished volume left to Sir Oliver's wife -- a posthumous "last case" that might be worth millions -- has disappeared. And Sir Oliver's death is beginning to look less than natural. Into this bitter household comes Inspector Meredith, a spirited Welshman who in some ways resembles Sir Oliver's fictional hero. In Robert Barnard's skillful hands, Inspector Meredith's investigation becomes not only a classic example of detection but an elegant and humorous slice of crime.
Lill Hodsden was a monster. She rode roughshod over her daughter, wiped her feet on her husband, blackmailed her lovers and smothered her sons with a mother love that left them screaming out for freedom. Lill set the hackles rising all over Todmarsh, the little South Coast town she queened it over. She was just asking to be done in. And her sons were very ready to oblige. In fact, they had it all worked out, for Saturday night. But when Lill was found garrotted on Thursday, on the way home from one of her boy-friends', the case was wide open, and half Todmarsh would have regarded the murderer as a civic benefactor. Inspector McHale, on his first murder case, is a man who values intelligence, particularly his own. He is convinced he is going to discover the killer. But is he going to discover the right one? In the claustrophobic relationships around the appalling Lill, Robert Barnard has used his gift for creating murderable monsters to set up a murder everybody can sympathize with. This book was also published with the title "Mother's Boys."
Sixteen short tales of crime-and-ironic-punishment from the witty British mystery-master: a brisk, droll first collection, heavy (but only occasionally heavy-handed) on social satire and homicide humor.
Professor Belville-Smith had bored university audiences in England with the same lecture for fifty years. Now he was crossing the Australian continent, doing precisely the same. Never before had the reaction been so extreme, however, for shortly after an undistinguished appearance at Drummondale University, the doddering old professor is found brutally murdered. As Police Inspector Royle (who had never actually had to solve a crime before) probes the possible motives of the motley crew of academics who drink their was through the dreary days at Drummondale and as he investigates the bizarre behaviour of some worthy locals, a hilarious, highly satirical portrait of life down under emerges.
Opera singers are often described as being larger than life, and certainly this is true of Gaylene Ffrench. Her appetites - for men, for booze, for attention - are gargantuan, and her ability to irritate is similarly outsized. So when someone electrocutes the bombastic Australian contralto, few tears are shed at the Northern Opera Company (though it's a pity her understudy's so lousy). In fact, most of the company members are dancing a jig, and it falls on Superintendent Nichols to determine which of them might have helped Gaylene along to her just reward. The black tenor tired of being the butt of Gaylene's bigotry? The soprano weary of jealous whispers in her ears? Gaylene's many bedroom conquests, all anxious to avoid a repeat performance? With so many potential suspects, Nichols has his hands full, but Barnard and his readers have a deliciously malicious good time.
Novelist Graham Broadbent coasts through life like many of the characters in his books - low-key and unassertive - quietly accepting the easy pace his success has allowed him. But one evening, minutes before leaving to speak at his school reunion, attractive twenty-year-old Christa appears at his hotel door and tells Graham he is her father, although Graham hasn't seen the girl's mother in twenty-five years. Curiosity - and perhaps an unrealised desire to remedy the doldrums of middle age - lead Graham to investigate who this girl really is, and why she came to him with such an obvious lie. As he digs deeper into his past, Graham finds himself in a confusion of deception and lies far beyond his mastery of plot and character.
From Robert Barnard, the internationally acclaimed Diamond Dagger-winning crime writer . . . WithA Fall from Grace, Robert Barnard triumphs once again with a witty tale of family discord and murder. Detective Inspector Charlie Peace and his wife, Felicity, are shocked when Felicity's difficult dad, Rupert Coggenhoe, suddenly announces that he's moving north to their Yorkshire village. Felicity has never much liked her father, and to have him as a near-neighbor fills her with foreboding. The boorish old man has always loved to impress the ladies, young and old, by exaggerating his modest success as a novelist. True to form, soon after his move to Slepton Edge he surrounds himself with adoring females, including a precocious, theatrical teenager named Anne Michaels. Rupert and Anne could make a lethal combination. Rumors fly, but Felicity convinces herself that Rupert would do nothing seriously wrong. He can be annoying and outrageous but he's not a criminal. She relies on a friend, a doctor who seems to be strangely aware of everything that's happening in the community, to warn her if he hears of anything really troubling. She doesn't have long to wait, but the news is not what she expects. It's worse. A body has been found and it looks like murder. Stunned by a difficult reality, Felicity is even more shocked to discover that she, herself, may be a suspect. This is one criminal investigation that's much too close to home for Charlie Peace. He's not officially on the case, but he uses his copper's instincts and a husband's heart to find a killer and to discover anew the meaning of family. Praised for his "perfect pitch, exquisite pacing, and meticulous plotting" (Marilyn Stasio,The New York Times), Robert Barnard proves yet again that he is one of the great masters of mystery.
Lydia Perceval was - apparently - a charming and gifted woman. As a successful biographer, she led a privileged and comfortable life in her well-ordered, luxurious country-cottage. She felt terribly sorry for her sister, married to an unemployed drunk, mother of two sons, both of whom had loved their adorable Aunt Lydia much more than their parents. Lydia had a way with young people, particularly boys. She knew how to bring out the best in them. As it happened, her sister's two boys had proved something of a disappointment - Maurice had demeaned himself by going to work in television, and Gavin, the best, had died a hero in the Falklands War. Lydia felt a little lost without some young people to groom into greatness. And then she met the Bellingham boys. It was like a reply of the past, two bright young boys, one dark, one fair, just waiting for Lydia to take over their lives. But before she could do so, Lydia was strangled. The motives were subtle, obscure. And there were very few clues. But as Superintendent Mike Oddie started his investigations, he began to suspect that quite a few people hadn't liked the charming Lydia Perceval at all.
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