Matthew Gardner, a Berlin-based architect from New York who is divorced with no children, is on holiday in Switzerland where he meets Caroline Walters, a Swiss-born freelance designer from London and a widow with three teenage daughters, Flic, Imo, and ChloŽ. They marry, he is transferred to the London offices of his company, and the family settle into Caroline's old home.
Almost at once, he is aware that Flic and Imo regard him as an intruder, and resent their mother's betrayal of their late father by marrying again so suddenly. ChloŽ takes to him at once, but as the youngest sister, she can hardly prevent herself from being drawn into a savage campaign on their part to drive a wedge between Matthew and Caroline, hoping to get rid of him. The housekeeper, her boyfriend, Caroline's psychotherapist and closest friend, and the gardener, are all drawn into an increasingly vicious spiral of petty distrust and paranoia, while the family matriarch, Caroline's mother Sylvie, does her best to contain the situation.
At first the girls seem supportive in public, but are increasingly hostile to Matthew in private. When Flic takes him and their dog for a walk one evening, he ends up getting hopelessly lost and by the time he finds his way home several hours later, the rest of the family fear the worst and are about to alert the police. She pretends to be sorry, but was it an accident on her part, or did she have some sinister motive? She and the depressive Imo, who has a dark secret involving her father about to be uncovered, are two psychopaths in the making. Tampering with the dinner one evening in order to make their mother seriously (but not fatally) ill, knowing the blame will be pinned on Matthew, soon follows.
The review of this Book prepared by John Van der Kiste