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A Clear Conscience by Frances Fyfield

A Clear Conscience (1994)

by Frances Fyfield

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The lives of friends and colleagues are inextricably and inexplicably linked in this gritty London drama. Cath, cleaning lady to the boisterous and happy Eliot family and to Helen West, Crown Prosecutor with a complicated relationship status, receives terrible beatings from her husband.

Unfortunately, that's about as far as I got into the plot as I gave up at page 102. More than a third of the way into the book I thought there really ought to be a plot going, and if the circumstances are so dire, more of the characters need to be likeable (see Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News). ( )
  readingwithtea | Nov 24, 2010 |
A Clear Conscience is a dense, layered crime novel set in London. Inspector Bailey and his lover/sometimes collaborator Helen the lawyer are embroiled in a series of sordid crimes revolving around bar fights that descend into murder, plus the recurring bouts of wifebeating Helen’s new cleaning lady suffers. The mundane, banal nature of these very human crimes rings true, and the story is concluded well – even if it doesn’t exactly end well.

Frances Fyfield writes with confidence and power; the elegance and vividness of her prose recalls P D James – high praise indeed.

The only lack here is the deep, sustaining narrative drive – that delicious sense of needing to know what happens next – that characterizes the best crime novels. Fyfield’s plotting is more allusive and elliptical; events move forward, but jaggedly and often accidentally, much as they do in real life. This is not exactly a flaw, but it kept me from finding this otherwise very fine novel completely compelling. ( )
  mrtall | Feb 25, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 034538508X, Mass Market Paperback)

"FYFIELD IS A WONDER . . . A very intricate and surprise-filled plot."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
Helen West, Crown Prosecutor in domestic violence court, is working up a good case of burnout because justice-by-the-book seldom seems to do the women she represents much good. Helen's love affair with Police Superintendent Geoffrey Bailey also seems to be losing its fire.
Then, as if someone has designed a test case for her, Helen learns that humble Cath, her cleaning woman, is being beaten by her husband. Cath has no family--her beautiful brother, Damien, has recently been brutally murdered--so she needs all the help she can get. Helen is willing to give it.
But as the truth of Cath's young life, her marriage, and her brother's murder begin to take shape, piece by jagged piece, help and justice seem hard to come by . . . and may be forever beyond reach.
"Fyfield is a brilliant writer, her pen dipped in acid and moonbeams."
--The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Powerful stuff . . . Compelling."
--Kirkus Reviews

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:26 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A novel on battered women, featuring British prosecutor Helen West as she handles cases from the domestic violence unit. They include her own charlady, which turns her assignment into something more personal. By the author of A Question of Guilt.

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