Twelve years ago Nick Redpath's mom died, and as an orphan he was shuffled around various homes. Now he's back to visit his hometown of Bathside, Essex. Soon he begins running into the kids he used to know at school, only now of course they're grown up with their own lives and liaisons; most traumatic for Nick of these re-encounters is with Jerry, the girl he adored from afar when they were both adolescents, now a doped-up, adulterous femme fatale. Only this time it's the femme fatale who winds up being the murder victim, with Nick -- in true noir style -- the prime suspect.
There are twists and turns galore before finally the murder is solved, and in the interim we're offered plenty of neat insights into the hypocrisies and vulnerabilities that oil the wheels of social life in small towns that have somehow been left a few years behind by the world, and aware that the gap could be widening. The characterizations are vivid, and in a couple of cases really quite affecting; the taut tale-telling rattles along at good speed; and the solution to the mystery is both startling and satisfying. Recommended.