BOOK REVIEW / Novels in brief: The Barred Window - Andrew Taylor: Sinclair-Stevenson, pounds 14.99

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Taylor has produced most novel forms that are read on the edge of seats: award-winning crime, an espionage trilogy, a gothic and now a psychological tingler with more than a touch of the Daphne du Mauriers - and not just because it is set on a wild Cornish coast. The apologetic narrator, alias Rumpy, worships his cousin Esmond, a boy who manipulates adults with sinister charm. When Esmond's baby sister and mother conveniently die, both boys are pleased that they will be brought up as brothers - Esmond because he covets his cousin's big house (Rumpy's mother married into a Birmingham lavatory seat fortune) and Rumpy because he needs Esmond as a minder. Taylor seems to like his characters either cringing or thrustingly larger than life. Comic leanings notwithstanding, this author knows precisely how to wield suspense.