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Clutch of Phantoms Paperback – 15 May 2000

3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; paperback / softback edition (15 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006513182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006513186
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 11 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,020,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Clare Layton is one to watch: this is a gripping psychological thriller with above-average intelligence from a writer who knows her stuff. Highly enjoyable and thoroughly recommended.’
Ian Rankin

From the Back Cover

Brilliant psychological suspense in the tradition of Barbara Vine

Cass Evesham, one of the rare woman traders in the City, has a shocking weekend in every sense. Her lover ends their affair in a particularly brutal fashion. Her planned Seychelles holiday goes out of the window. The press besiege her with news about the grandmother she thought was dead.

Livia Claughton, now in a safe house under an assumed name, finds it hard to adjust to her new life, and to accept help from those who can't even begin to imagine the reality of the last twenty-five years.

Julia Gainsborough, actress daughter of a famous diva killed in her prime, is determined to restart her flagging career – and settle some of her demons – by starring in a cycle of revenge plays.

All three women escape the clutches of the past, having to come to terms with their genetic inheritances.

The pace is swift and the characters complex in this powerful novel that explores the fascinating questions about the roots of violence and the potential for change.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Bingham on 15 April 2003
Format: Hardcover
Those familiar with the Willow King and Trish Maguire mystery series by Natasha Cooper, will be more than pleasantly surprised at the way Natasha Cooper uses her talents as a writer to include the genre of psychological thriller, thus the use of another pseudonym, Clare Layton. This is a superlative book with beautifully drawn characters and such built up suspense as to be breathtaking. The story starts deceptively slowly as the main characters are introduced and placed in the scheme of things. The beauty of the characters for me was that none were larger than life - both Cass and Livia have flaws and strengths which pull you straight into their story. The sub-plot of Cass and Livia trying to build a relationship in the middle of the chaos, each reacting with their own character flaws and foibles is a gem and so real. Livia's relationship with Bobby is heartwarming and also without a false note. The explosive climax satisfies both your sense of justice and the human need for a satisfactory ending. And the wryly humorous epilogue rounds off my best read this year.
Ian Rankin's "blurb" on the front cover (my copy is a paperback version) says "A gripping psychological thriller - highly enjoyable and thoroughly recommended". "Gripping" is a mild word for the range of feelings I went through as I followed the story. (I am trying my hardest here not to use any "spoilers" because in this case, it would ruin the book for other readers). Just let me say that I was so immersed in the characters that I felt what they felt: helpless, fear, anger, horror, indignation at the unfairness of life, hope, satisfaction, vindication - every emotion you feel yourself in situations where you have no control but your own self-control.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. E. Hayes on 24 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
Cass Evesham is a successful City trader. The story opens as Cass succeeds, having taken one of her biggest gambles yet. With a rise in salary, starting a two week holiday in the Seychelles with the man she loves, Cass leaves her office on top of the world. Within twenty four hours her world has collapsed.
When Livia Claughton is released from jail after serving a long prison sentence, she is besieged by reporters. Moving to a remote area and living under an assumed name, Livia attempts to come to terms with her new life.
Daughter of a famous dive killed whilst in the prime of her career, Julia Gainsborough, is an actress, struggling to restart her failing career, and deal with her feelings of bitterness and the need for revenge.
Although, each of these women have had no contact for the last twenty five years, their lives are inexplicitly woven together by the past, which now shapes their future.
This is one of those books you have to keep eading, so much is under the surface. Livia Claughton had clearly been convicted of a serious crime, but what, and why, is not immediately apparent. There are layers to peel away before the reasons become known. Likewise who she was and what she has become, is only revealed slowly, and the interaction between characters brought together by a set of circumstances makes for fascinating reading.
Clare Layton is a pseudonym of the highly successful writer Natasha Cooper, who has two series, the first featuring Willow King (seven books) and her more recent series featuring barrister Trish Maguire. This is her first psychological suspense. I look forward to the next.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 July 2000
Format: Paperback
Cass is a "Mistress of the Universe" and on the day her job is confirmed she discovers her lover is remaining with his wife and a hitherto unknown grandmother is released from prison after serving 25 years. Livia, the grandmother, has kept us a friendship with the solicitor who throughout has represented her and he contacts Cass. She travels to Cumbria where her grandmother is ensconced in a house near a village. Cass is deeply concerned the media coverage, her granddaughter status known, will end her newly burgeoning career. On the first night at Granny's, a hiker falls in the hallway suffering from pneumonia. He naturally is a City Whizz Kid, of millionaire status and unmarried who just happens to be enjoying a "mid life" crisis on the doorstep. Cass learns her grandmother stabbed to death her husband and his lover, an opera singer. Cue, stage left Julia, the vocalist's daughter. This lady decides to exploit the intense media interest in Livia and Cass to promote a series of plays, in which she stars, produced by her own financially shaky production company. The hatred she bears Cass, more than Livia, must be the excuse used by the publisher to label this a "psychological thriller." Livia, under the aegis of a social worker becomes involved with a totally unbelievable subplot, but far more interesting than the main dish, when she begins to teach a juvenile delinquent from the local village, literacy. Having formerly been an architect who had "lived for art", Livia designs a house on paper for the boy's imaginary character of his ongoing writing saga. This is a useful device for telling Livia's story retrospectively.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Cleverly Written Crime Novel 16 Feb. 2003
By Mamalinde - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In this story with strong undertones of fate, family, foes, forgiveness and fairness, Cass Evesham finds a lot more than a grandmother she believed was dead was actually a murderess. Not a exactly a cozy mystery, the reader always knows "whodunit" - but the arrival of Cass, Livia and Julia in the present makes much of the past. The twists of hate and betrayal are very realistic, as well as Livia's adjustment to society. Ms. Layton etches a clever cast of characters in a very unusual situation. I am hoping she went rather over-the-top with her portrayal of a merciless press, but I sense that she got the vengeful characters just right. A five star read!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
poignant drama about people and their expectations 1 Sept. 2002
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
Harriet Klausner
Out of Touch 23 Aug. 2015
By W. Braunstein - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's difficult to use the plot selections given to describe this book--it would be better described as nonexistent. As you read this book you want so much to develop empathy with at least one of the characters but they never rise to the level of empathetic figures. It seems the intent of the author is to delve into the darker recesses of the characters' feelings and discover the cause of their fatal flaws as you discover their humanity. The circumstances of the novel defy believability, the whole thread of genetic predisposition to murder is superficial, and the behaviors of the main and supporting characters defy rationale in the modern world in which the book is set. The only compelling aspect of this novel is the hope that the story and/or characters will become compelling with the coming chapters.
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