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The Price of Guilt    by Margaret Yorke order for
Price of Guilt
by Margaret Yorke
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

The Price of Guilt is another entry in the long list of mysteries and thrillers by British writer Margaret Yorke. Yorke is always a reliable and rewarding author who has won numerous awards including most recently the prestigious Crime Writers' Association's (UK) Cartier Diamond Dagger Award. Her books are frequently police procedurals but with more depth and twists than the simpler traditional procedurals.

Sixty-ish Louise Widdows, the younger journalist Andrew Sherwood, and his son are thrown together by chance during an unpleasant incident with hooligans on a train. Sherwood is drawn to the quiet, shy Louise and feels there is a sad story in her background. Louise has indeed led a painful life with her domineering husband Colin, who has suddenly disappeared. She suspects him of being the hit and run driver of a car that struck her down and broke her arm and ribs shortly before the train journey. When salvation appears in the form of an unexpected legacy of a cottage in a distant small village, Louise takes the opportunity to leave her home quickly (in case the increasingly cruel Colin returns) and begin a new life.

Louise is a sad and endearing heroine who slowly starts to blossom and regain her spirit in new surroundings. She and Andrew maintain contact and begin a friendship. This is satisfying for the lonely Louise and for Andrew, who has recently divorced and also lost his own mother. Yorke writes this story from multiple viewpoints, those of both the two major characters and of many minor ones. This somewhat unusual technique enriches the story. In this case, it also heightens the tension as the reader learns of Colin's plans to locate and harm Louise.

The Price of Guilt could have been a sentimental book, as Louise adjusts to her new surroundings in a pleasant small village and develops a happier life. However, Yorke is too good a writer to be that predictable. The book takes a surprising twist, which may be disappointing for some readers. In my opinion, the result is ultimately a better and very enjoyable mystery.

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