Cover image for A fatal attachment
A fatal attachment
Barnard, Robert.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : C. Scribner's Sons : Maxwell Macmillan International, [1992]

Physical Description:
281 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order


Author Notes

Robert Barnard 1936-2013

Robert Barnard was born in Essex, England on November 23, 1936. He read English at Balliol College, Oxford. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, he was a professor. His first novel, Death of an Old Goat, was published in 1974. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 40 books including A Cry from the Dark, The Bones in the Attic, Posthumous Papers, Death in a Cold Climate, Sheer Torture, Political Suicide, The Missing Brontë, The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori, and A Charitable Body. He also wrote an illustrated biography of Emily Brontë and A Brontë Encyclopedia, compiled with Louise Barnard. He received numerous awards including the Nero Wolfe, Anthony, Agatha, Edgar and Macavity Awards. In 2003, he won the CWA Diamond Dagger Award for a lifetime of achievement. He died on September 19, 2013 at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Briton Barnard is both amazingly prolific and amazingly consistent in terms of quality of storytelling. His latest classic-grounded whodunit features a compelling character named Lydia Perceval, a biographer of the dead by trade and a dominator of the living by inclination. Lydia and her sister and brother-in-law aren't on the best of terms; Lydia rather took over control of her two nephews as they grew to manhood, and as it turned out, this interference in the boys' lives had less-than-successful results. Now, as Lydia finishes her latest biography--of French king Charles X--two teenage boys cross her path, and once again Lydia is hell-bent on dominating young lives. Presently, though, Lydia is murdered, and the psychological tangles she has woven in her life must be untangled in order to discover who has done her in. A pleasure to lose oneself in. ~--Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

A veteran crime writer with seven Edgar nominations, Barnard ( A Scandal in Belgravia ) here crafts another gem. Supt. Mike Oddie and Det. Charlie Peace of the West Yorkshire Police are in the village of Bly investigating the strangling of Lydia Perceval, 50ish author of bestselling ``shapely, aesthetically satisfying'' biographies. A cold manipulator, Lydia had alienated her nephews Gavin and Maurice from their parents, married the brother of the man she loved (and ended the marriage when her husband didn't measure up to her high standards) and had lately cultivated the two teenage sons of a sick mother and workaholic father. She'd even decided to leave the new boys some money before she was murdered. Oddie and Peace must work through the stories of the locals (a spooning couple see a bearded stranger near Lydia's house) and Lydia's kin (the ex-husband newly moved to a nearby farm; her sister Thea, still devastated by Gavin's death in the Falklands war) to trace the murderer. The book's pleasure comes from Barnard's easy use of police procedures, his subtle characterization and his eye for village color. Lydia is a delicious monster, and the ambiguous ending delivers an extra kick. Readers Digest Condensed Books selection; Mystery Guild main selection; paperback rights to Avon. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Barnard's new contribution evidences the same excellent plotting and characterization seen in A Scandal in Belgravia ( LJ 7/91). This time, his psychological study centers on a wealthy, highly intelligent, but condescending popular biographer who tries to direct the lives of two teenaged village boys. Lydia's first attempt to mold young lives--those of her own two nephews--ended unsuccessfully, and so does her new attempt: someone murders her. Chief among the suspects stand her sister and alcoholic husband, her surviving nephew, a wimpy ex-husband, and the boys' ineffectual father. Up to the usual high standard. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-- The author of The Skeleton in the Grass (Thorndike, 1988) has written another page-turner. Lydia Perceval has always controlled the men in her life, from her former beau, to her n'er-do-well ex-husband, to the nephews to whom she is so devoted that she usurps her sister's role as mother. Just as it seems that she has lost her power, two boys enter her life. Intelligent and friendly, they soon become her pet project. In fact, when Lydia is murdered, they are surprised to learn that she had not yet placed them in her will, while investigating superintendent Mike Oddie observes that her former boyfriend is not at all surprised to be her sole heir. The deeper Oddie delves into Lydia's past, the more he realizes that there was nothing simple about any of her ``attachments'' and that any one of them could have led to her fatal end. Combining the psychological probing of a Ruth Rendell story with the class tensions of a P. D. James mystery, Barnard creates a unique form of suspense novel. It's an excellent introduction to a prize-winning writer.-- Catherine Clancy, Boston Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.