I wonder if I should keep these diaries under lock and key. Jenny Spede has disturbed them again . . . What does she make, I wonder, of an old woman, deformed by arthritis, stripping naked for a young man? The pills worry me more. Ten is such a round number to be missing . . . Mathilda Gillespie's body was found nearly two days after she had taken an overdose and slashed her wrists with a Stanley knife. But what shocked Dr Sarah Blakeney the most was the scold's bridle obscuring the dead woman's face, a metal contraption grotesquely adorned with a garland of nettles and Michaelmas daisies. What happened at Cedar House in the tortured hours before Mathilda's death? The police assume that the coroner will return a verdict of suicide. Only Dr Blakeney, it seems, doubts the verdict. Until it is discovered that Mathilda's diaries have disappeared . . . 'An atmosphere of tantalizing, overpowering menace . . . The tradition of the English whodunnit has passed into the safe hands and dangerous imagination of Minette Walters' The Times

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