Middle-aged Josh and Maisie Evans lead an unremarkable, unassuming life. When Auntie Flo, who has lived with them for years, dies and leaves them her Estate, they head to Italy on holiday, to take in the sea air and let the sun soak into their bones. It’s there they meet Mrs Fingal. A wealthy widow, she lives with her grown-up niece Lena and it’s pretty clear that neither is happy with the situation. So when Josh and Maisie bond with Mrs Fingal, over ice-cream and gentle toddles, it’s only natural that they all decide she should must move in with them once home. It suits everyone.
Beneath the suburban respectability of cups of tea and genteel chitchat, however, emerges a different tale: one of ruthless greed and exploitation, and suffocating, skin-crawling terror.
For fans of Shirley Jackson, Roald Dahl and Muriel Spark, A Helping Hand is a sharp and nasty slice of darkness, and a reminder that the real horrors of this world can all too often be found behind discreet net curtains and the quietly nondescript.
‘Celia Dale’s writing is quiet, clever, subtle – and terrifying. I can’t think of anyone whose stories of suspense I appreciate more.’ Ruth Rendell
‘The accuracy, understanding and quiet wit of Jane Austen – plus murder.’ H. R. F. Keating
‘Quietly shattering . . . a very nice piece of nasty business.’ Kirkus Reviews