At Death's Door

Robert Barnard

20 December 2012
184 pages


Upstairs, in the room looking out to sea, the old man dictates wills, leaving things he no longer has to friends who are long dead. His children, who look after him, can cope with his senility, and thought there was nothing more to learn about his erratic life-style.

When Roderick Cotterel hears from his illegitimate half-sister he is intrigued, even charmed: she is the daughter of his father, the distinguished novelist Benedict Cotterel, by the famous actress Myra Mason. She is writing a book about her mother, and is looking for material. The affair between the two had been a gutter press sensation back in the ‘sixties, but the embers have long since cooled. However, when Cordelia and her boyfriend arrive and begin research for the book both Roderick and his wife begin to have doubts. And when their peaceful Sussex village is threatened by a visit from an almost suspiciously friendly Myra Mason, they realize they have got into something from which it would require superhuman delicacy and tact to extricate themselves. In the event somebody solves their problems in a way that is neither tactful nor delicate, though it certainly is final.

‘He never takes the easy path of repeating a winning formula.’ Time Magazine