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A Private Inquiry by Jessica Mann

Short listed for the Crime Writers Association Golden Dagger Award - 'a pleasure to recommend. An intricate, carefully woven plot and cast of characters that has depth and credibility.’ Publishing News

Barbara Pomeroy led a busy life as a Planning Inspector but when an anonymous caller threatens the life of her son, Toby, her world is thrown into disarray.

With his mother often away from their home in St. Ives, Cornwall, Toby is cared for by his retired father, who has recently befriended Clarissa Trelawny, a glamorous, mysterious newcomer to the town. Clarissa soon becomes Toby’s surrogate mum, showering him with presents and affection.

But then Clarissa is brutally murdered and the shocked little community must find the killer. could Barbara have killed Clarissa in a jealous rage? Who was the fancily named Clarissa Trelawny anyway? And is there a link between the murder and the sinister telephone threat?

MARILYN STASIO , New York Times Book Review: There isn't a seam in sight in A PRIVATE INQUIRY (Carroll & Graf, $22), a cunningly conceived mystery by Jessica Mann that combines the puzzle-plotting ingenuity of a traditional British whodunit with the sneaky subtlety of modern psychological suspense. The key is in the finely shaded character work. At first glance, the several women who figure in this story look like people we know all too well: a careerist too busy to notice that her husband and son have been taken in by a sexy stranger; an academic too involved in theory to apply it to the business practices of her employer; a trophy wife and mother, too dim for words. When the lives of these women converge in the picturesque artists' colony of St. Ives, one of them will die -- and only then will Mann reveal her clever deceptions by unraveling the simplistic assumptions we have based on appearances and showing us how complicated these women really are.