Review published on April 20, 2017.
Music teacher Iain Miller’s career has been wrecked by false allegations of sexual harassment made by pupils at the school where he was teaching. Now unable to find work, his cello playing is the only thing keeping him from falling over the edge. He has to rely on his company director wife, Una Carrington, for financial support and this she provides, albeit unwillingly. He tries to pull his weight by giving private music tuition to adults, but his wife is still not satisfied. Then, she begins to accuse him of physical abuse, even involving the police and Iain is in such a state of despair that he cannot be sure that he had not actually caused the injuries to his wife. The only people who do not believe Iain is capable of such behaviour are his musician friend Fergus O’Neal and his wife, and Iain regularly stays with them when his life becomes too much to bear.
Finally, Iain’s beloved and valuable cello goes missing and before he has a complete breakdown, Iain and Fergus begin the hunt for the missing instrument.
This psychological thriller has many twists and turns and it is difficult to decide who is the actual abuser. I thought Una to be a rather unpleasant character and felt sympathy for Iain, but I could understand some of Una’s frustrations.
Whilst I enjoyed this book and found the story quite original, I do feel it is rather long at 347 pages and as such rather “slow” in places. Nevertheless, it is certainly worth reading and it has a satisfactory and conclusive ending.
Val James 4/4
The Cruelty of Lambs by Angelena Boden
Urbane Publications 9781911129660 pbk Nov 2016