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Undercurrents [Paperback]

Frances Fyfield
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 7 2000
Henry didn't turn back when Francesca needed him twenty years before. Now, on some sort of journey to anchor his soul, he arrives in her home town of Warbling and discovers that she's even further beyond his reach - serving a life sentence for the murder of her child. Still intrigued by her, and entranced by his memories, he becomes drawn into the town and the people who knew her far better than he - her cousin, her lawyer, her closest friend, Angela, whose adopted daughter Francesca had helped her acquire. He finds himself a lodger in the House of Enchantment, an eccentric boarding house run by two gays who believe the comfort of their guests is above profit. And he finds himself incapable of believing that Francesca is a killer, even if she did confess her crime in chillingly logical detail. But if it wasn't her, then who? Peopled with richly quirky and original characters, this is a novel of suspense in which the truth is better left unknown.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Building suspense bit by exquisite bit, Fyfield (Staring at the Light) turns out another masterwork, this one about a man's search for a lost lover. American pharmacist Henry Evans has been obsessed for 20 years by the memory of Francesca Chisholm, a young beauty he met while backpacking during his youth in India. He finally travels to the English coastal town of Warbling, a strange little place where Chisholm had told him she was going to live. It's cold and very wet and Warbling's populace is decidedly unwelcoming, with the exception of two homosexual men who rent Evans a room in their peculiar lodging house. When he begins asking around about the whereabouts of Chisholm, Evans can't get a straight answer. A lawyer finally tells him to regard her as dead. A year earlier, it turns out, Chisholm was sentenced to life in prison. Her crime: murdering her five-year-old son, who suffered from a form of cerebral palsy, by drowning him in the ocean. Despite her unequivocal confession, Evans can't believe his former lover would do such a thing. He looks into the matter, but is stymied at every turn by Chisholm's friends and family. Ultimately, Evans discovers that the truth is far more tragic than the lie. Dark humor occasionally flashes through the narrative, but Fyfield's latest is primarily a grim, tense story about regret, loneliness and leaving well enough alone. In Warbling, she's created a memorable setting. It's a harsh, foreboding town, populated by people disappointed, judgmental, distrustful who deserve such a place. (Apr.) Forecast: While this book moves a bit more slowly than some of Fyfield's previous psychological thrillers, readers will recognize and appreciate her deft touch. An eight-city author tour will afford the London-based writer extra U.S. exposure. This could be Fyfield's biggest yet.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

British author and criminal lawyer Fyfield has set aside her popular Helen West series for this fine standalone suspense novel (her second after Staring at the Light), with its wonderfully human characters. Twenty years ago, Henry Evans left the English girl he fell in love with on a backpacking trip in India, and he has regretted it ever since. So he leaves Boston to find Francesca Chisholm, only to learn that she is in prison for killing her son Harry, a five-year-old with cerebral palsy, a year earlier. But the facts of the murder don't add up for Henry, a man of science, who seeks the truth from those closest to Francesca: her cousin Maggie, who defended her in court; her best friend Angela, mother of the tantalizing young Tanya; Angela's ex-husband Neil, who once hit Harry; and Tim and Peter, gay proprietors of a shabbily genteel rooming house, who are visited by Harry's spirit. In the end the truth is revealed, and a final twist rounds things out. A particular pleasure for Fyfield's fans and for readers of Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters, this is recommended for all fiction collections. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps I was asleep... Nov. 2 2001
when I read this novel, but words like "riveting" when applied to this book shock me deeply! Poor Henry! Moved by his father's death and his dissatisfaction with his life, he tries to retrieve the one shot at happiness he let pass him by twenty years ago. What a quest! Arriving in Warbling, he is confronted with as unappealing a cast of characters as ever you could meet. Peter and Tim appear to be the only human beings in town, and you gotta wonder about the Wendy house. Otherwise, the population is made up of dreary, self-pitying fellows and gals dragging their shawls about in the mist, up and down the shingle, and out the pier.
As for our incarcerated martyr, give me a break. Some people are just too good for their own (and anyone else's) good.
Henry's father was the most attractive character in the book. And we know what happened to him.
P.S. Three stars instead of two are for Frances Fyfield in general!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Undercurrents May 25 2001
By tregatt
"Undercurrents" by Frances Fyfield is a rather difficult book for me to write about, mainly because all the reservations I had about this novel stems from my disagreement (with the authour) with the manner in which matters were left. If I were to voice my opinions openly, then that would be giving away plot resolutions, and that would be totally unfair to those who have not yet read this novel. But I'm going to try without giving too much away, and I apologise in advance if this review comes across as not being properly balanced.
Twenty years ago, Henry Evans walked away from the love of his life, Francesca Chisholm. His father's recent death however has brought Henry to the crossroads of his life sotospeak, and so he makes for the English coastal town of Warblings, to try and find Francesca. The England of his fantasies and England in reality are two very different things for this very shy American, and definitely the natives take a little getting used to; and while Henry didn't expect for his quest for Francesca to be incredibly easy, he didn't expect to discover that Francesca was in prison for having murdered her five year old son either. All his memories about Francesca, as well as his gut feelings tells him that she cannot be guilty of such a crime, in spite of her confession of having performed the deed. And so Henry, with no real skills in investigation, decides to try and discover what really happened that fateful day, a year ago. But he finds it rather stiff going: few want to talk about what happened, and Francesca's friends and family seem openly alarmed and hostile at his attempts to ferret out information.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars language most unbecoming July 5 2001
I've loved all of Frances Fyfield's books but I have read my last book by her. The story was ok but I could not connect or have any passion either way for ANY of the characters except for the two lovely men who ran the "HOTEL". But most of all and the reason why I will not read another of this author's books is the language. Why was it necessary for her to finally resort to the f...word and the other s----word in abundance when so completely unecessary. This completely weakened the book in every way for me. I read English books and authors because of their wonderful use of language and communication and find it insulting and toxic when I read an author especially and English one who feels he/she must resort to four letter words when she is aleady an acomplished and very gifted writer. And Frances Fyfield is or was. Can one imagine the grand dames of English mystery writing by using the ugly expletives so common in the ugly world we live in. I read for pleasure and having those words thrown in my face in abundance I find insulting and insensitive to my love of reading.
I don't like writing a review like this but I just can't believe this talented and gifted author could do this to her fans. I could not recommend this book to anyone for this main reason although I have a couple of friends who also love this author's books. I can't tell you if the story was further damanged by language or if this is just one off books. But I shall not read another one to find out. And P. D. James gave her a very nice recommendation on the back of the book for which I'm sorry since I'm sure she did not read this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Really? I find it a little hard to believe that Henry waits 20 long years to go back and find the love of his life and then hangs out with her for weeks without recognizing her. Also, parts of the book just seemed to drag on and on. I didn't like the author's writing style. I won't be reading another book by her, as I pretty much deem this book as a waste of 350 pages.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Current Oct. 4 2001
By Jenny
Frances Fyfield's UNDERCURRENTS is a top current mystery. I loved its story, and I enjoyed author Fyfield's writing style. This book is terrific.
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