a greater evil
Abandoned as a baby and brutalised in care, sculptor Sam Foundling is the obvious suspect when his wife is beaten to death in his studio. Trish Maguire, who acted for him when he was a child, hopes he didn't do it. Her campaign on his behalf brings her up against DCI Caro Lyalt, the senior investigating officer and her own closest friend. At the same time, she has a job to do: acting for a huge insurance company that is fighting to avoid shelling out millions of pounds to shore up a magnificent but shaky building.
Powerful people want Sam charged. Trish knows that whether he did it or not she has to find out exactly what happened in his studio on the day his wife died if she is to save his reason.
While you're writing a novel it's not always clear where the main impulse comes from. Only later can you trace the roots of the story. This time the driving force was two-fold. I was fascinated to read in Matt Ridley's Nature via Nurture (Fourth Estate, 2003) of a New Zealand study into the effects of childhood experience on boys with a low-active or damaged MAOA (monoamine oxidase A) gene. If such boys are kindly treated they are likely to grow up notably gentle; if, however, they are subjected to cruelty (of any kind) they are highly likely to become violent adults. To someone like me, more interested in why people do the things they do than almost anything else, this was fascinating.
The other underlying theme of the novel is the difficulty of telling from the outside of a building – or a person – what fundamental flaws may be hidden behind the facade. There's a personal element to this bit. Some years ago I owned a house that was subsiding, and the trauma of negotiating with the insurance company, neighbours and underpinners remained too vivid in my mind to ignore.
'Her creation of plots and counter-plots, character and locale, are eminently satisfying. Maguire's adventures are always eagerly awaited: an excellent series.'
Sue Baker's Personal Choice, Publishing News
© Natasha Cooper 2007