The standalone novel from the critically-acclaimed Peter Lovesey. Rough Cider was nominated for an Edgar Award.
It is World War II and American soldiers stationed in rural England have made friends, especially with the local girls. After a dance to celebrate the pressing of the apples into cider, the resentment of the local men leads to violence and a murder. Later, a baby girl is born.
Years later, Theo, a university lecturer, is approached by an American girl called Alice. She wants to be told about her father, a GI hanged for murder in Somerset during World War II. As a boy, Theo had been a principal witness for the prosecution.
Alice persuades him to revisit the farm where Theo was evacuated, staunchly determined to discover the facts. The horrors of the past take on a frightening immediacy when long-forgotten jealousies come to the surface and another murder is committed.
When Theo Sinclair was nine years old, in 1943, he fell in love with a girl of 20 named Barbara Lockwood, who killed herself. Now it's 1964, and Theo is teaching undergraduate history courses at the University of Reading, England. He's only 29, but already a confirmed bachelor and curmudgeon. Theo's humdrum life is shattered by the appearance of Alice Ashenfelter, a beautiful young American whose father was hanged for the murder provoked by Barbara's suicide. Alice is determined to prove that justice miscarried, and finds ways to engage Theo in her cause. Suddenly, as the pair investigate the old mystery, there's a new murder, then a third. Lovesey deftly builds suspense as the plot unfolds, and his slam-bang finish is altogether satisfying. Quirky and entertaining characters give added depth to this corker of a novel. Mystery Guild selection.