The peaceful environment in dusty Nether Bowston may point toward cozy mystery, but the story of Gemma Cowper who fails her O-levels and whose father is far too keen on protecting her against the world out there is unsettling. The tone and setting are old-fashioned, but surprisingly scary. And then both parents are stabbed to death, and Gemma vanishes.
The narrator, Alison Akenside, is a local journalist who lives close to the Cowpers. She has led a quiet single life, but she sees the murders as her one-time chance to have a scoop. And we soon learn that Alison and her family also have plenty of skeletons in the cupboard.
Unfortunately, the book is an uneven performance. On the plus side the first part and the environment are wonderfully sinister, and there is more psychological insight in the characters than in most cozies, but the ending is a bit of a let-down as there is not enough new information for my taste.
I bought the book myself. Reviewed for the 2010 Cozy Mystery Challenge # 3.