Cover image for Undercurrents
Fyfield, Frances.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2001.

Physical Description:
278 pages ; 24 cm
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Format :


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X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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A complex novel of suspense and obsession from the writer whose provocative brilliance is transforming the genreUndercurrents blends the best of Minette Walters and Daphne du Maurier with an alluring mystique to create a haunting and unforgettable book that is uniquely Fyfield. For twenty years Henry Evans has been haunted by a blurred but shining memory of his lost love, Francesca Chisholm. Now this shy American has come looking for her, in her hometown on the English coast. What he finds there, is not what he expects...

Author Notes

Frances Fyfield is a pseudonym of Frances Hegarty, born and raised in Derbyshire on November 18, 1948. After reading English at Newcastle University, she did various odd jobs before enrolling in a law course in the Midlands. But it didn't interest her enough to continue and she moved to London where she was a shop assistant at Fenwicks and theatre dresser at the Coliseum.

Fyfield eventually did finish her law qualifications and got a job as a solicitor to work with the Metropolitan Police. She has worked as prosecutor for both the Metropolitan Police as well as the Crime Prosecution Service.

Fyfield is the author of more than seven suspense novels, including Shadow Play and Without Consent. Her novel, A Question of Guilt, was nominated for an Edgar Award and filmed for the BBC. She has won several awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Blood From Stone in 2008 and the Silver Dagger for Deep Sleep. In addition, her novel, Safer than Houses was nominated for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger in 2006. She also writes psychological thrillers under the name of Frances Hegarty, among them, The Playroom, Half Light and Let's Dance

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Fyfield, a practicing criminal lawyer who has worked with the London Metropolitan Police and the Crime Prosecution Service, is widely regarded as one of England's premier suspense novelists. Her reputation derives in large part from her ability to erect a scaffold of thoroughly believable details and forensic evidence to support her tales of ever-building tension. In this, her fourteenth novel, Fyfield introduces an American male, thrown into detective work as he searches for a lost love. Henry Evans travels to the soaked seaside town of Warbling to discover what happened to his lover from 20 years in the past. He finds a town straight out of film noir, where the views are grim, the interiors grimy, and the inhabitants ever-watchful. Evans learns that his old girlfriend is serving time for the murder of her five-year-old son. His quest to discover the truth is like a walk down a dark alley in a bad part of town. Scary and enlightening. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

Building suspense bit by exquisite bit, Fyfield (Staring at the Light) turns out another masterwork, this one about a man's search for a lost lover. American pharmacist Henry Evans has been obsessed for 20 years by the memory of Francesca Chisholm, a young beauty he met while backpacking during his youth in India. He finally travels to the English coastal town of Warbling, a strange little place where Chisholm had told him she was going to live. It's cold and very wet and Warbling's populace is decidedly unwelcoming, with the exception of two homosexual men who rent Evans a room in their peculiar lodging house. When he begins asking around about the whereabouts of Chisholm, Evans can't get a straight answer. A lawyer finally tells him to regard her as dead. A year earlier, it turns out, Chisholm was sentenced to life in prison. Her crime: murdering her five-year-old son, who suffered from a form of cerebral palsy, by drowning him in the ocean. Despite her unequivocal confession, Evans can't believe his former lover would do such a thing. He looks into the matter, but is stymied at every turn by Chisholm's friends and family. Ultimately, Evans discovers that the truth is far more tragic than the lie. Dark humor occasionally flashes through the narrative, but Fyfield's latest is primarily a grim, tense story about regret, loneliness and leaving well enough alone. In Warbling, she's created a memorable setting. It's a harsh, foreboding town, populated by people disappointed, judgmental, distrustful who deserve such a place. (Apr.) Forecast: While this book moves a bit more slowly than some of Fyfield's previous psychological thrillers, readers will recognize and appreciate her deft touch. An eight-city author tour will afford the London-based writer extra U.S. exposure. This could be Fyfield's biggest yet. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Arriving in England on work assignment, American Henry Evans finds himself in the town from which an old love, Francesca Chisholm, hailed. He met her in India decades ago and always regretted letting her slip out of his life when he had to return home suddenly to the States upon the death of his father. He sees this as an opportunity to bring an end (or a beginning?) to an unfinished part of his life but is stunned to learn that Francesca is in prison for killing her disabled son. As he comes to know the people of the village and Maggie, a solicitor and Francesca's cousin, he discovers more and more questions and secrets that will lead him to a very unexpected conclusion. Fyfield's prose makes this small, grimy, damp setting seem very real, and the suspense and sense of unknown danger never let up. Reader Alex Jennings does the story full justice, inhabiting all the singular characters of the town. Audio noir seems an appropriate description for this complex suspense production. Highly recommended. Melody A. Moxley, Rowan P.L., Salisbury, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Someone should have advised him against a February arrival. He knew what winter was like at home; cold and sharp and dry, manageable even in eight degrees below, but somehow he had not associated an English coastline with any notion of a serious chill. She had never described it like that. There had been mention of bonfires and brisk walks; of a breeze stinging the eyes when admiring the sea from the battlements of a castle, descriptions augmented by a memory of Dickens and picture postcards suggesting a modest covering of snow or a comfortable blanket of fog outside, all cleverly orchestrated for no other purpose than to make the fireside welcoming and the hot toast delicious. The sort of kindly cold which was a home designer's asset, purely to act as a contrast to a comfortable room. Outside the station, the wind tore at his coat like a mauling dog. The rain skittered in the eddies of wind to scratch at his face and hat. His suitcase was ballast, lifting from his shoulder and leading him in a sideways sloping sprint across the carpark. It defied the mild sense of triumph he had felt in alighting from the train at all, beating the challenge of the antiquated door as the carriage lurched to a halt in front of a sign so obscure he could scarcely read it. WARBLING, a name like a dowdy bird. Doctor Henry Evans, poetry-loving scientist, with impeccable transatlantic credientials and comfortable North American lifestyle, felt himself unfairly fooled by the weather and did not enjoy the sensation of being outwitted. He congratulated himself briefly at the same time for that level of preparation which was his own hallmark. He had purchased a map; he had listened carefully to telephone instructions and he knew precisely where he was going. Rain, spitting at him with renewed vigour. You can't miss it, squire. Straight down the road by the station until you reach the sea; turn left. Big hotel, squire. Nelson stayed there long before they built the pier. Henry had enjoyed the train, dirty though it was. At least he could open the window and breathe. He hated to be inside those capsules of transport where he had no control. And he craved his first sight of the sea. His was a land-locked heart, in love with gentle ocean sounds. He could see it in his mind's eye, calm and dark, moody with moonlight and full of inspiration. The shops on his route were small and, in the shuttered darkness, less than quaint. He noticed a deserted cinema with posters of films he thought he might have seen a decade since, a forlorn wine bar with single occupant, the closed premises of a post office apparently doubling as a pharmacy and a florist's without flowers, but apart from a couple of illuminated signs, the only significant lights were the Belisha beacons where the road dipped into a pedestrian crossing before rising towards the sea. The yellow globes winked at a lone woman who waited as if needing some extra sign which would give her licence to cross an empty road. She was followed at a distance by a big, black dog, which did not seem to belong. Henry nodded and said hi. There was no response, reminding him of another feature about the natives he had encountered so far. They were not so much rude as preoccupied at any given time. They would not ignore the outstretched hand if you waved it right in front of their faces, but any gesture not initiated by themselves required repetition before -gaining acknowledgement. They were not unfriendly, he decided bravely, simply undemonstrative and destined to lead him into a deliberate and useful heartiness through the means of their natural reserve. You have to learn to come out of your shell, Henry. No one else is going to winkle you out. He was trying to remember what a winkle was. The road which had dipped by the crossing rose to meet the seafront and its attendant sounds. He had forgotten the mad gust of the station carpark on his way thus far, relatively sheltered from the wind and the rain which struck him now with a series of staggering punches so hard and mean he yelled and grabbed at a railing. The shout was shoved down his throat in a lungful of icy air; the wind struck at his arm; the railing was sticky wet to the touch. As he staggered back into a doorway, his nose collided with the glass and he was suddenly eye to eye with another poster on the far side, depicting ice cream piled high in a fluted glass, topped with a cherry and set against a summer blue background. The wind howled round his head; he was glad of the hat and while on another kind of day he might have laughed at the ice-cream poster for its sheer incongruity, the wind was pummelling his back. The sea was an insane chorus of animal roars, followed by the vicious hiss of angry water clawing at stones, clattering and snarling in frustration; then the next crash, boom, hiss, a battle of sibilant fury, counterpoised by the deep bass of echo. Excerpted from Undercurrents by Frances Fyfield All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.