(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The mind-numbing shock of a memorial service for her presumed-dead husband is the least of Ellen Richmond’s worries three months after his disappearance while sailing. With no trace of the yacht or his body, how can anyone be sure he has died and not simply run away? Rumors of Harry Richmond’s business problems and the possibility of suicide concern the police. With two children to support and the insurance company’s refusal to pay a death benefit until there is proof of accidental death, Ellen is struggling with more than just her emotions. Then there is Harry’s sister Anne, who blames Ellen for not caring enough and possibly causing Harry’s death; Ellen’s teenaged daughter from a first marriage, who falls apart emotionally upon losing a second father figure; and the unwanted sexual attention of her husband’s former business partner, who fancies himself a ladies’ man.

As time goes by, investigations lead to Ellen learning of her husband’s deceit. Why was he silent about his participation in the Falklands campaign? The lone man at the funeral service who claims he served with Harry in the Falklands knows more than he divulges at first. Can his information be trusted? The huge sums of money that disappeared from Harry’s business must be accounted for somehow. Did he lose them playing the stock market or did he abscond with them while planning to disappear? The problems, coming as a shock to the widow as she learns of them, nevertheless appear to be reasonably straight forward until the reader slowly learns the real secrets of the various characters’ lives.