This is a case of the chance meeting of two people, known to each other, who have both assumed false identities. William Adams was sent to prison for rape. In order to avoid this being known following his release, when he embarks upon a series of scams, he hides behind a new persona. He then meets Desmond Baxter, whom he recognises as the judge who sentenced him. But Baxter is not his real name. Why is he also hiding his identity? Might Adams indulge in a little blackmail? However, unknown to him, the judge has recognised Adams. After weaving many twists and turns, with her usual skill Margaret Yorke presents the reader with a wholly unexpected outcome.
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Born in Surrey, England, to John and Alison Larminie in 1924, Margaret Yorke (Margaret Beda Nicholson) grew up in Dublin before moving back to England in 1937, where the family settled in Hampshire, although she later lived in a small village in Buckinghamshire. During World War II she saw service in the Women's Royal Naval Service as a driver. In 1945, she married, but it was only to last some ten years, although there were two children; a son and daughter. Her childhood interest in literature was re-enforced by five years living close to Stratford-upon-Avon and she also worked variously as a bookseller and as a librarian in two Oxford Colleges, being the first woman ever to work in that of Christ Church. She was widely travelled and had a particular interest in both Greece and Russia. Her first novel was published in 1957, but it was not until 1970 that she turned her hand to crime writing. There followed a series of five novels featuring Dr. Patrick Grant, an Oxford don and amateur sleuth, who shared her own love of Shakespeare. More crime and mystery was to follow, and she wrote some forty three books in all, but the Grant novels were limited to five as, in her own words, 'authors using a series detective are trapped by their series. It stops some of them from expanding as writers'. She was proud of the fact that many of her novels were essentially about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations which may threatening, or simply horrific. It is this facet of her writing that ensures a loyal following amongst readers who inevitably identify with some of the characters and recognise conflicts that may occur in everyday life. Indeed, she stated that characters are far more important to her than intricate plots and that when writing 'I don’t manipulate the characters, they manipulate me'. Critics have noted that she has a 'marvellous use of language' and she has frequently been cited as an equal to P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. She was a past chairman of the Crime Writers' Association and in 1999 was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger, having already been honoured with the Martin Beck Award from the Swedish Academy of Detection. Margaret Yorke died in 2012.From Kirkus Reviews:
Yorke likes to disturb the smooth-surfaced but often frustrated lives of her characters with a malignant outside force (Intimate Kill, etc.). In this outing the cat among the pigeons is William Adams, recently out of prison after serving time for rape. His other crimes, including murder, have gone undiscovered. The chanciest of encounters brings him into fleeting contact with Colin Drew, the judge who sentenced him. Now, in addition to his sleazy con games, Adams can add sadistic spice to his life with a series of vaguely menacing calls and messages to the judge and his lonely, submissive wife Felicity--a practice that eventually escalates into murder. Sensitive and suspenseful, with convincing people living unfulfilled lives that are changed forever by the blackhearted deeds of William Adams. Quietly engrossing and among the author's best. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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