John Murray

Love, obsession and self-deception are the themes of this perceptive and chilling novel, which explores the shifting sands of marital happiness and its response to crisis. When Beattie and her husband Bob move out of New York City to a converted barn in New Dartmouth, Beattie feels she has achieved her heart's desire: a home in ravishing and tranquil countryside where she can enjoy marriage and motherhood and continue to paint. But when Elizabeth, their neighbour, invites them to dinner, is she simply extending friendship or is there some ulterior motive? And has someone been prowling through Beattie's house when no one was at home? Her unease turns to horror when a terrifying incident convinces her that an attempt has been made on her life. Soon Beattie is caught in a spiral of hatred, terror and violence. In the face of Bob's disbelief she is forced to make her way alone through a landscape of danger that reflects the dark recesses at the heart of her marriage. Frances Hill handles suspense with the same cool assurance that she charts the darker reaches of the imagination.

“Frances Hill's second novel uses the form of the murder mystery in which the reader is always a few steps ahead of the victim. . . Hill is clearly interested in providing more than just a piece of contemporary American gothic and she (creates) developed characters rather than stereotypes . . . Hill's portrait of the prosperous suburb of New Dartmouth is of a society corrupted by wealth. . . Downtown is barely civilised and business smashes, failed marriages and murders flourish. Hill even hints that it is their materialism that is her characters' downfall. . . Her ending sees the only hope in a return to innocent poverty for Beattie and Bob - a reversal of the American Dream. Hill's version of the dream turned nightmare is as economical and telling as Rand Richard Cooper's is ponderous and bland."

Lindsay Duguid, Times Literary Supplement

"In Frances Hill's A fatal delusion a British expat is getting acclimatised to the ordered ways of American domesticity in the blankly tranquil spaces of rural New England. She's still got a dyspeptic eye for quaint foreign ways - hot Brie, inauthentic enthusiasm about other looking good, and so on - but immunity is growing fast. Until, that is, near-disaster in the swimming pool at an odd neighbour's place alerts her to personal threat. Soon the innocent-seeming rocks and stones of a benign countryside are issuing snakes: ancient histories of lust, murder, blackmail, paedophilia. This second novel is a mistress-piece of tactful suspense.

Valentine Cunningham, The Observer