Poisoned Pen Press, August 2002, 24.95, 323 pp.
Twenty-five years ago Livia Claughton was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing her husband and his mistress. The trial judge called her a harpy while passing the sentence. The moniker stuck and when Livia was paroled at seventy-five years of age after serving her full sentence, the tabloid press covered the event.
Cass Evesham, a high flyer stockbroker never even knew that Livia was her grandmother until the media tracked her down. Out of curiosity and a sense of family, Cass visits her grandmother in Cumbria, a meeting that is fraught with tension and other suppressed emotions. It is only when Livia's life is placed in danger does Cass come to realize how much she truly does care about her grandmother.
Clare Layton, known to mystery fans as Natasha Cooper, has written a poignant drama about people and their expectations. The heroine of this tale is an elderly woman who has come out of prison as a kind and strong person who won't back down for anyone when she believes she's right. CLUTCH OF PHANTOMS is a novel that takes you two steps beyond the edge.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner