Crime and Historical Novelist
The Judgement of Strangers
The second novel of the trilogy is the story of David Byfield, a widowed parish priest with a dark past and a darker future. Set in 1970 in a commuter village near London, the novel explores the consequences of Byfield's second marriage.
Roth is not so much a village as a suburban state of mind. But the past clings and still has the power to affect the present. The menopausal Audrey Oliphant, churchwarden and spinster, nurses a hopeless passion for her parish priest. Lady Youlgreave slides towards death in the company of her equally senile dogs, Beauty and Beast.
The big house, now a wreck of its former grandeur, has been sold to a pair of hippies, brother and sister, who have their own secrets and their own power to disturb. The vicar's new wife is fascinated by a Victorian poet-priest with local connections - Francis Youlgreave, author of The Judgement of Strangers, opium addict and suicide. And there are the children at the Vicarage: Michael Appleyard, a watchful boy with a taste for Sherlock Holmes, and Rosemary, Byfield's teenage daughter, as beautiful - and as strange - as an angel.
Then the murders begin, and the mutilations, and the echoes of past crimes and blasphemies.
"...wickedly stirring...Taylor writes well and persuasively." Literary Review
"keeps the reader on edge all the way to the stunning climax." Publishers Weekly