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The Nature Of The Beast Hardcover – 27 Sep 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (27 Sept. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316857467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316857468
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,215,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Unusually for a crime novel, it is not entirely clear whether any crime has even been committed for much of the first half of Frances Fyfield's The Nature of the Beast. Amy Petty, a troubled and apparently pathetic woman, walks away from a major train crash, leaving her husband, a large, brutish debarred barrister, engaged in a complex libel suit (he is accused of cruelty to animals at least, bestiality at worse), to conclude that she has perished in the fire, her body never to be recovered.

John Box, QC, and his junior (and mistress), Elizabeth Manser, are hired by Douglas Petty to fight his corner in the libel case against the national newspaper that anonymously received a video and photographs of the alleged act of gross indecency. While Box is a handsome, intellectual and astonishingly self-centred married man, Elizabeth is lonely and giving. With such rich characterisations and thoughtful scene setting, readers looking for a fast-paced, shock-a-chapter traditional thriller might be somewhat confused, if not sorely disappointed.

Those familiar with her work and those looking for something more than a quick whodunit, will find a finely written, intelligent, psychological novel about the different kinds of criminals that fill the corridors of our courts and the cells of our prisons, and what makes one criminal, or one crime, more or less repellent than another. --Carey Green --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Fyfield knows how to keep the reader gripped right until the intriguing read. (MAIL ON SUNDAY)

A book that grips from the beginning. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

A black but compelling thriller which keeps you guessing until the end. (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

Fyfield manages to tell a moving tale; wonderfully written and full of original moments. (THE TIMES)

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 13 July 2002
Format: Hardcover
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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