A woman's body is found near Miller's bridge and an anonymous phone call is made.
When Liz Farrell's uncle is taken in for questioning, life starts falling apart and Paula's words ring in Liz's ears: 'you always do the wrong thing for the right reasons.'
Liz tries and tries to bury her fears so that she can take care of her aunt Helen and fend off her meddling aunt Paula but it's just no use.
The police are swarming around her naive uncle but Liz eventually wins over Detective Chief Inspector Sheldon Hunter and together the two of them might be able to help clear Reggie's name.
At least it seems that way - but nobody is talking to the police and even fewer people will talk to Liz.
When a devastating change occurs, Hunter has no choice but to close the case and Liz has nowhere to turn.
Is Liz helping or is she dragging herself and her family deeper into trouble?
Hunter and Farrell find themselves ever more deeply involved with the irreproachably genteel society of a small Cheshire town where, surely, nobody could have a motive for murder ... or could they?
Cruel as the Grave mixes an intriguing blend of the literary novel and crime fiction in this story that uncovers the darkness lurking under a family's middle-class veneer.
Meg Elizabeth Atkins has won many plaudits for her fiction on both sides of the Atlantic, and reviewers have compared her to Elizabeth Bowen and Barbara Pym for the elegance of her writing. In several of her earlier novels, such as Samain, Palimpsest and Tangle, she has explored the disturbing undercurrents beneath the polite surface of English middle-class life, and in Cruel as the Grave forces erupt through the repression and containment of daily existence with violent consequences.
Meg Elizabeth Atkins lives with her husband in a North Yorkshire village. She teaches creative writing and also writes non-fiction books such as Haunted Warwickshire.
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Used availability for Meg Elizabeth Atkins's Cruel as the Grave
June 2002 : UK Hardback
June 2002 : UK Paperback
June 2002 : USA Paperback
August 1998 : UK Paperback
March 2016 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition