When Van der Valk was alive his wife's independence of mind was notorious. And Arlette's years as a widow did nothing to lessen either her independence or her vitality. But it took remarriage to persuade her to undertake a career in which common sense. and intelligence could benefit those in need of advice, comfort or protection from fears either known or indefinable. Strasbourg, where Arlette has come to live, is itself an ever-present and not always predictable character in this novel in which Nicolas Freeling launches a resourceful, yet vulnerable woman. Every reader, once introduced, will find her an irresistible character.