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.