?/series. All Barnard’s books (he's published fifty? Maybe more?) have so far been plotted to perfection. This one, on the face of it a “cozy”, is creepily gritty, beginning with a corpse in the trunk of a car parked behind a tandoori restaurant. Clues lead DC Charlie Peace and DS Mike Oddie to Ashworth, a reclusive artist colony. The cast of odd characters, all gathered around to adore aged artist Ranulph Byatt, will make you think a lot about the phrease "get a life". Byatt’s ménage includes an aristocratic wife, several cottages of lodgers who ostensibly live for the moments Byatt will notice them. Enter charming young Irishman Declan O’Hearn, who is hired to be Byatt’s assistant. But is he also the corpse? The tension will keep you glued to this book, and climax will chill you. A five.