City of Strangers Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Not far from the Phelans is the middle class "respectable" middle class row of old Victorian houses that constitutes Wynton Lane. All families are dysfunctional, but they're dysfunctional in their own way. This was true of the residents of Wynton Lane. Adrian Eastlake, perpetual bachelor, fears Jack Phelan because he secretly harbors the notion that his mother had been sexually traumatized by him, and that's why she turned into a recluse, a pretended-invalid. Some Wynton Lane families and couples are undergoing relationship difficulties.
The Wynton Lane crowd really get shaken up when Jack and his grubby family come looking at the only one of the houses in the row of six that's for sale. The rumor is he's had a big win from the pools. The distraught respectable crowd have a crisis meeting to decide what to do. They are a disparate group, but several of the women hold back.
Barnard often depicts strong women who have trouble with weak and ineffective husbands. After you read enough Barnard, you rather feel that he has a basket of types that he draws from.
Daphne, the retired schoolmistress lives alone and has as her downstairs tenant, a young teacher Carol who recognizes talent in Michael Phelan. Barnard rather telegraphs clues about Daphne's nature.
Everything comes to a head when someone torches the Phelan house, and Jack gets killed. The Wynton people are suspected, and the oldest Phelan boy, Kevin, a rotten piece of work, spray paints that message on one of the Wynton walls.
This Barnard effort has an unusually large number of good people whereas normally most of the characters in his books are unsavory.
When it came to solution time, I think Barnard went off the track with a very complicated and not credible plot line that bordered on the absurd.
This is a good story with sharp characterization, conflicts galore, personality clashes, and a lot of good class delineation, a fine sense of place, but I just didn't buy his final explanations for Phelan's murder because the criminal machinations were too muddled and sounded phony.