Spider Orchid

At the outset, we are presented with a characteristic Fremlin situation: a group of seemingly ordinary people, living seemingly ordinary lives, are in fact locked together in a love/ hate relationship which must almost inevitably end in violence.

Peggy has divorced Adrian but she quite amicably accepts his deep attachment to their fourteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, and hers to him. Rita has been his mistress for the last couple of years, and he believes he is in love with her u0ntil her husband Derek bitterly agrees to a divorce. Then Adrian is appalled when, abruptly, Rita moves in, destroying his now precious privacy and endangering his relationship with his daughter.

Rita’s bickering grows into screaming rages. He grows to hate her and she grows to hate Amelia. Rita sees her chance to strike savagely at Amelia when she comes upon the girl’s diary which is full of erotic day-dreaming about one of the teachers. Her nasty little plot fails, but she has taken a first step that leads to murder.

But of who and by whom? Celia Fremlin, a master of creating suspense, keeps us guessing to the finish. Not until a few pages from the end do we know who is going to die, and not until the very last sentence do we learn, positively, who did it. It is, literally, a cliff-hanging climax.





‘To the very last paragraph we are kept tenterhooked.  But the dissection is what makes the difference, sentence after sentence peeling a new layer away and revealing yet another of life’s little truths…perhaps it is just this minute exactitude that distinguishes this particular brand of intelligence.  It selects unerringly shades and tiny differences.  And because tiny things are what sort out the women from the boys it pushes this book to a high, high place.’  The Times
‘With consummate, subtle skill, the author builds up suspense…when the crime comes, you are completely prepared for it: it is completely convincing and satisfying.  In its beautifully understated way, this novel creates an effective world, peopled with appealing and appalling characters.  Much of its attraction lies in the lucid, witty…prose.  Vintage Fremlin, this is one of the best crime novels of the year.’  Financial Times
‘Keeps you guessing to the end.’  Oxford Mail