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on 11 March 2003
This was really a rather strange book! It took me ages to get into it (as it seemed to move at such a slow pace) and I almost gave up on it after about 4 or 5 chapters. However, once the characters and events began to take shape (sort of!), I found I wanted to keep on reading to find out what would happen. Basically, it's the story of Amy Petty, who (being a passenger on a train that crashes) disappears and is presumed dead, even though her body is not among those recovered. At this time, Amy's seemingly bombastic and uncaring husband, Douglas, is taking a libel action against a major national newspaper after it reported his involvement in an act of gross indecency. Douglas' equally obnoxious stepmother and stepsister are staying at his large house, which doubles as a refuge for unwanted, abandoned and abused dogs. Amy's disappearance is very strange (given her husband's current predicament) and a lawyer is hired to find out the truth about Amy's whereabouts. But why does Douglas want Amy back home when he seems to care so little about her? And why do his step-relatives behave in such a cloying and 'sickly-sweet' manner towards him? Meanwhile, Amy is far from dead, but she hides a secret that must not be disclosed at any cost, even if it means that she may never be able to return home to her beloved dogs. Her only problem is that she was a witness to the murder of a woman at the time of the crash but, fortunately for the murderer, his victim's body is counted as one of the train casualties. Amy cannot be discovered, but finds it difficult to live with the knowledge of the terrible act she has witnessed. Is there anyone she can trust to tell about this without giving herself away?
Even though this was an unusual story, I'm glad I kept reading because, in the final chapters, all loose ends were tied up and the ending was really satisfying! If you've got the patience to stick this one out, it's really worth reading.
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on 26 November 2001
Frances Fyfield belongs to that category of crime writers who don't so much ask who did it but why they did it. She has an acute understanding of the complexity of human nature, a complexity of intention, feeling and reaction that can often lead unwittingly to crime. This book explores that fascinating area: people who choose to disappear.Many of us have fantasised about it: what it would be like, just to walk away.This is the story of a woman who does that, and why. It's a rich and well-told story, immensely readable.And I'm happy to read and recommend a book in which dogs can be real characters too!
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on 13 July 2002
Frances Fyfield is one of the best of today's British crime writers. Most of her work features Crown prosecutor Helen West, in this novel we meet a friend of hers from university days, Elisabeth Manser. Elisabeth is an assistant to a barrister who also happens to be her married lover. The case they are on involves Douglas and Amy Petty. Douglas has been accused by a national newspaper of cruelty and bestiality. Amy is his main defence witness but when she is involved in a train smash she walks away and plays dead. Why she did this and how the case will go are the main story here with a murder as a little extra.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 September 2009
I am amazed at Frances Fyfield's range. This one is quite different to all of her other crime novels, and is it really a crime novel? One can only read and absorb.

Douglas Petty, an ex-lawyer with a kaleidoscopic past, is an English eccentric in the best tradition, but is he also a wife beater and sadist with a penchant for bestiality? His wife, Amy, is a victim of the latest train-crash scandal - the reader alone knows for sure she's not dead. There is something hidden or lost in her past and in his past, as well as an unpalatable situation with a step-mother and step-sister to unravel.

Much of this is seen through the eyes of Elisabeth Manser, junior counsel to the enigmatic and rather cold John Box QC, with whom she is having an on-off affair. They have been called in to officiate in an unusual case of libel. An unsavoury red-top newspaper has what seem to be compromising photographs of Petty with a Golden Retriever.

The writing style is as off-beat as the plot. We move to the consciousness of various of the protagonists in turn. Unfortunately, they all seem to be the same person - slightly crazed and given to non-sequiturs - turning a most entertaining story into something of a ramble through the writer's thought processes.

Ruth Rendell does multiple narrators consummately, with the telling small detail and the quirk of personality kept neatly under control. Fyfield on the other hand lets it all run free and the result is just as profitable in a different way. In this book the pace is helter-skelter and I must admit I was tempted at times to skip passages in search of the next jolting hop forward since her plot lines are always enthralling.

I am a convinced fan of Fyfield's eccentric style. This one is well-worth reading for the wit and wackiness alone, especially if you're fond of dogs, who get a series of favourable vignettes, and for the plot itself, which is great fun with a wonderfully happy ending.
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on 4 February 2013
A beguiling, intriguing and perplexing delight where 'knowing' is ignorance and discovery pure joy. AND it all ends - well you must find out for yourself - read this!
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on 7 January 2006
i gave up on this book after about a third way through. i like a good mystery but this book was just too mysterious. I had no idea which characters, if any, i liked/disliked. I could not decide who was 'good' or 'bad' and felt totally lost. I know its good to work at a plot and fathom things out for ourselves, but this was just too dense. People said things that bore no relation to what had gone before and there was no real pull to read on further.
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