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Shear Paperback – 9 Aug. 2000
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An English Geologist, Peter Nicholson, is sent to inspect the quarrying work on a Mediterranean island. He has come with his girlfriend, Margaret, at 22, much younger than him, and leaves a wife and two children at home. At first he can't find much wrong with the methods used at the site but is harried by a woman, Hazel Owens, whose husband has been killed by a rock fall. Hazel is convinced that this death wasn't an accident and that the quarry owner is covering up for the inferiority of some extraction process.
Sexual politics feature heavily, especially when the beautiful daughter of the complaisant quarry owner makes it known that she is available. Then a fax arrives from Nicholson's wife with some unwelcome news. That gives him three love interests, perhaps one too many? The plot turns upon issues of subtle, and not so subtle, blackmail, another murder, and Hazel's problematic 11 year-old daughter Wendy. It picks up pace towards an explosive finale when he finds a conscience and imagines he can right the wrongs with a wildly desperate act.
As with all Parks' novels, the writing is very good, wonderfully atmospheric and lively with solidly built characterisation. I like Tim Parks' well-researched competence and stylish imagination and I enjoyed this racy thriller.