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Barbara Pomeroy, a planning adjudicator, is trying to balance home and career now that her son Toby, a kidney transplant recipient, is at last leading a normal boyhood in St.Ives, looked after by his father, Colin. Barbara is hearing a case about plans for a new nursery school, with supporting evidence from child psychiatrist Dr. Fidelis Berlin, when an anonymous caller threatens Toby's welfare if she doesn't reach the right decision. Meanwhile, at home, the glamorous Clarissa Trelawney is usurping Barbaras place as wife and mother until Clarissa is found gashed to death with a wine bottle. Did Barbara kill Clarissa out of jealousy? But who, really, was Clarissa? It is a question Fidelis must answer as in the end she unravels the tangled experiences, past and present, of the women, the children, and the authoritarian husbands. These various strands of Barbaras difficult life, as she is suspected of unfaithfulness at home and dereliction of duty at work, are tangled up together until Fidelis Berlin swoops down to sort everything out, in the first of her appearances in Jessica Manns subsequent novels. A Private Inquiry was shortlisted for the crime writers annual Gold Dagger Award. Critics called it elegant and beautifully written, and said that it should have a place of honour on the National Reading list.

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