Berkley, March 2003, 14.00, 384pp.
After several months in which former Parliament member Harry Richmond remaines missing at sea, his wife Ellen accepts the official ruling that he is presumed dead. Her upper-class friends and his political cronies presume Ellen is a grieving widow and treat her accordingly, though she knew her marriage was in trouble. At Harry's funeral service, a former military associate of Harry during the Falkland Islands War, Richard Moreland attends.
As Ellen thinks suicide due to amateur seaman Harry going out on a yacht in dangerous weather, the police wonder if murder occurred. Already worried about the future of her two children with the mountain of debt her dead husband left her with, Ellen learns more about Harry's questionable financial dealings, alleged wrong doings as a soldier, and perhaps sexual abuse of his adopted oldest daughter. Only Richard seems to be on Ellen's side in seeking the truth of what happened to Harry, but she questions his agenda.
Though the tale starts off a bit slow as Clare Francis introduces the cast including a dead Harry and their relationships, once the story line shifts into gear it never slows down. Readers will find Ellen a delightful enigma until the climax. Is she the victim only trying to protect her children or is she the killer trying to hide her own misdeed? Fans will take tremendous satisfaction trying to determine who the real Ellen is, but Ms. Francis cleverly hides the truth in plain sight and it is not revealed until the taut climax.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner