When novelist Kate Ivory first meets Dr Olivia Blacket, an academic at Leicester College, Oxford, the atmosphere is far from amicable. Olivia refuses to show Kate the fascinating material she is researching, even though it concerns the same literary figure that Kate is writing about. Determined to nose out the scandals that could provide her with a bestseller, Kate discovers a darker side to Dr Blacket. What are the strange obsessions that haunt her? What is her relationship with Kate's boyfriend Liam? And most of all, who would want to murder her? When Dr Blacket is murdered, Liam's name heads the list of suspects, but Kate thinks a bizarre 'family' of civilised squatters - four men guarding a blank-faced girl - might have something to hide. Can Kate unravel the truth and prove Liam's innocence?
Always on the alert for a new subject for one of her historical novels, Kate Ivory is rapt by the recent discovery of diaries and letters by Maria Taylor, sister of Dickens inamorata Ellen Ternan. It would be just the thing if her Oxford lover Liam Ross could introduce her to Taylor's editor, Dr. Olivia Blacket - if, that is, Liam were not Olivia's long-time lover as well. By the time Kate figures out the reason for Olivia's extraordinary hostility to her, Olivia will be far beyond any more hostilities. The suspects: Kate, Liam, and an amnesiac called Angel, who's been drawn to Leicester for some reason even she doesn't understand. Perhaps the liveliest of Kate's four appearances (Oxford Exit, 1995, etc.), though the cast is skeletal (both collectively and individually) and the windup is a letdown. (Kirkus Reviews)