easeful death


Eileen Dewhurst

Severn House £18.99 hbk Rel: March 2003

Reviewed by Gwen Moffat

A parent's nightmare: the rebellious daughter ensnared by a quasi-religious cult. Its charismatic leader, the Enabler, engages to reunite the newly-dead with their loved ones by way of "a bridge" and a friend who has passed over already. Any anticipation of the event is condemned: a robust hint that engineered deaths are to be expected. However, the obsessed girl is seventeen and no crime has been committed. Yet. Consequently the police can't be involved despite her uncle being a DCS so, as a civilian, he employs the Peter Piper Agency. Phyllida Moon, past master of disguise, abandons prosaic surveillance for divorce proceedings to infiltrate an organisation that appears to be both dangerous and mad. People plunge to their deaths from high cliffs, they ingest cyanide; in a welter of fanaticism, unadulterated greed and lust the body count rises.

As in all the Moon novels highlights are Phyllida's skill at transformation; having approached the cult in the person of a dull but sceptical spinster she becomes an elegant sexy American in order to observe suspects; reactions to a dissimilar image. Echoes of "Mrs Doubtfire". A satisfying cosy for her adherents and one which should take readers back to Dewhurst's earlier novels such as the dark A Nice Little Business and the convoluted Roundabout.