On the night Neil Moray is returned as Independent member of parliament for the seaside town of Scotney, William Lomax, editor of the local paper, has a visit from a woman with an unsavoury tale to tell about Moray's campaign manager, Rodney Cope. Much has been made of Moray's personal integrity and his determination to clean up Scotney, and it seems plain that the woman, estranged wife of the unsuccessful Conservative candidate, is unbalanced.
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In this second volume of Mary Hocking's excellent trilogy, England joins the world in its march to war, sweeping along the members of the Fairley household, their relations and friends.It is 1939, and great changes come running to meet them all, snatching at their innocence and steadfast convictions and tossing them far away. Alice, Ben and Guy…
Nonetheless Lomax takes a hard look at the set-up in Moray's camp. The development of the West Front is a major issue and a suspicion persists that Cope may have a special interest in it. Then the woman who started it all is found dead. Cope pursues his way, exerting through the force of his personality a strange fascination on those around him; at odds with life, yet he seems to lead a charmed and energetic one. Moray, however, who has campaigned with flair and singleness of purpose, begins to realise that the real enemy is within and he is less well-equipped to meet the challenge than he had supposed. His secretary, Hannah, had wanted something 'different' from life and now, with the prospect of personal happiness at hand, finds herself dangerously close to the dark things which wait at the end of the bright day.
While sunbathers luxuriate in a heat wave and children queue for donkey rides on the sands, Cope and Moray and Hannah move towards the violent climax of their partnership, set among police sharpshooters, television cameras and holiday sightseers.