Beautifully atmospheric, this book is a study of characters whose lives are unsettled by unsolved murders. Cellist Sara Selkirk returns to her home in Bath, England, following a lengthy concert tour. Although tired and burned out, she agrees to help some local residents who are producing a community opera. On the personal front, she has strong feelings for one of her students, Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Poole, but his love for his three children makes him steadfastly determined to keep his unhappy marriage intact.

When Poole is distracted by his work on a homicide case—an elderly woman killed by a letter bomb—Sara fills in for him during rehearsals. Through her close association with members of the group, she gains insight into the crime.

The plot is character-driven, so much so that the mystery seems almost a side story at first. But it takes center stage as various plot threads are woven together. The characters and setting are richly developed by elegant prose that carries the reader into this fictional world. Joss' novel earns a well-deserved place of merit in the strong tradition of British crime fiction. (May, 396 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jo Peters