This crime novel is a debut. Liz (Elizabeth) Rigbey grew up in America but lives in Britain today.
The astronomer Lomax sees the new assistant, the pretty and fragile Julia Fox, and is infatuated by her immediately. She applied for the job because she lost her husband and stepdaughter recently, and when Lomax learns they were killed and that the police suspect Julia, he is so certain of her innocence that he forces her lawyers to let him help them clearing her name.
The observatory near San Francisco is an interesting setting, an alternative world which in some ways reminds me of Sarah Waters´ “In Cold Pursuit” where the Antarctic McMurdo Station plays such a crucial role. The focus is on the staff and the relationships between them, however, rather than on astronomy.
“When morning came some of the astronomers went to bed but most of them waited. They habitually spent long days waiting for night but today´s waiting was different. People played solitary card games or read or wrote letters, but they looked up frequently. Even those who dozed kept opening their eyes and rearranging their feet on the worn lounge chairs of the staff residence.”
Lomax seems like an unlikely investigator, but perhaps his ability to observe may be useful. When he begins to scrutinize Julia´s husband and stepdaughter, he does indeed notice things the police and her attorney did not. Soon he begins to suspect that Lewis Fox who liked his women young may have had a sexual relationship with his daughter Gail.
To be continued tomorrow as there is so much to say about these five hundred pages.