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The Edge: A Superintendent Mike Yeadings Mystery    by Clare Curzon order for
by Clare Curzon
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

It's a dark and stormy night (but don't let that well-worn cliché throw you off), and farm supervisor Ned Barton is about to make a startling discovery in one of this year's most intriguing and darkly entertaining new mysteries from Clare Curzon, an accomplished writer with more than forty novels written under various pseudonyms.

Four people have been brutally murdered at Hoad Manor Farm in Fordham, England: Frederick Arthur Hoad (with his body found in the first floor of the house), daughter Angela Hoad and her visiting friend Monica Jay (with their bodies found upstairs in the bedrooms), and wife Jennifer Suzanne Hoad (with her grotesquely positioned nude body in the nearby barn) are forever silent as witnesses to a nightmare of staggering proportions.

Superintendent Mike Yeadings and DS Rosemary Zyczynski are quickly dispatched to the scene of the crimes, and preliminary inquiries reveal very little. Missing from the murderous butchery at Hoad Manor Farm, however, is sixteen-year old Daniel Hoad.

Perhaps Daniel knows something about what happened. Perhaps he was involved in the horrible murders although it seems unlikely that a teenager could have been responsible for the carnage in the house and the lurid display in the barn.

Also on the scene is Jennifer Hoad's mother, Anna Plumley, a formidable woman whose intuition and insights may prove quite valuable to Yeadings and Zyczynski.

Then, when Daniel is discovered to have been hospitalized following a motorcycle accident, and when the timeline of the accident takes him off the already abbreviated list of possible suspects, Yeadings and Zyczynski turn to other people in hopes of developing some leads in the case.

Perhaps the Hoad's housekeeper Anna Pavitt will remember something about the events leading up to the massacre; perhaps farm supervisor Ned Barton and his wife Connie have innocently overlooked something that will help investigators; perhaps Monica Jay's parents, even in their grief, can remember something that will lead to a break in the case; or perhaps Daniel, despite his absence from the scene of the crimes, can offer some clues into what happened and who was responsible.

Yeadings and Zyczynski eventually realize that almost everything about the case is not what it seems to be: presumably forthcoming and honest people may instead be hiding something; ostensibly clear-cut facts and timelines may have been altered; and the apparently forthright lives of seemingly solid citizens may be pretentious masquerades for something sordid and unthinkable.

Intricately plotted and adroitly written, The Edge will consistently intrigue and ultimately shock readers who enjoy their mysteries dark and creepy. If the shade of Alfred Hitchcock had channeled his unique talents into the creation of a top-notch mystery novel about a heinous crime involving strange characters and bizarre behaviors, something like The Edge, with its cinematic pacing and grotesque suspense, might have been his ultimate gothic achievement.

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