MWA Edgar Award Short List for Best Mystery Novel, 1987
Listed in 100 Favourite Mysteries of the Century
“When I was nine, I fell in love with a girl of twenty called Barbara, who killed herself.”
Theo, a university lecturer, has his early life brought uncomfortably back when, in 1964 he is approached by an American girl called Alice. She wants to be told about her father, a GI hanged for murder in Somerset during World War II. As a boy, Theo had been a principal witness for the prosecution.
Alice persuades him to revisit the farm where Theo was evacuated. She is too young to have known her father, but is staunchly determined to discover the true facts. The horrors of the past take on a frightening immediacy when another murder is committed.
UK Publisher: The Bodley Head, 1986
US Publisher: Mysterious Press, 1987
UK Paperback: Arrow/Mysterious, 1987
US Paperback: Mysterious Press, 1988
Latest US Paperback: Soho Press, 2001 ISBN 1-56947-228-9
Black Dagger/BBC Audiobooks edition: 2007 ISBN 978-1-4056-8568-9
Latest UK Paperback: Sphere, 2014 ISBN 978-0751553550
“It’s tremendously good. There are a fair number of good crime novels ‘you can’t put down’; but there are very few you feel you want to stop reading because their people are so real and you dread the disasters you foresee for them.”
“I enjoyed Rough Cider very much indeed, read it at a sitting, as I did Waxwork and The False Inspector Dew. What struck me first of all was that this was yet another new departure for this most versatile author, a (to me) totally unexpected background, period and set of circumstances. The fine writing remains the same, of course, and the care for detail and the precision. The title is provocative but it does little to prepare the reader for a shock event of startling originality. Original the novel certainly is, leaving the reader dry-mouthed. But with no desire for cider as a thirst-quencher.”
“This is a Russian Doll of a book, one secret concealed inside another, one fact leading to another, just the way a whodunit ought to be, but so often is not. It is neatly constructed and written in a quickfire prose style which adds considerably to its appeal.”
Nicholas Best, The Financial Times