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Birds of a Bloodied Feather

Novel by Richard Tate.

Very English in the same way that Stephen King is very American, this is a calm drama whose closest relative must be Robert Bloch's Psycho. The Bex family (brothers Raymond and Stephen, and sister Kathleen) run Croon School, a private establishment in the Thames marshes. Stephen has abdicated his part in the control of the school, and Kathleen has driven into the estuary: missing presumed dead. Whilst the brothers and the school are mourning, the head boy is discovered decapitated. And his brother, who hated his guts, has been spending far too much time with two old local ladies (one disfigured and the other crippled in a car accident) who never leave their home and only open the door to him.

The startling cover hides a more withdrawn novel, spending much time detailing the strange relationship between the Bex family: Stephen loves Kathleen, but Kathleen adores Raymond and is acutely jealous of the teacher he has been seeing. The resulting conflicts of interest provide the basis for the horror that is to come. With a number of ingenious twists, Tate keeps us guessing to the end what is actually going on. Clever and interesting.


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