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BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: Before and After - Rosellen Brown: Sceptre, pounds 5.99

Mom's a doctor, Dad's a sculptor, the local police chief is their friend - none of which, it seems, stops young Jacob bludgeoning a teenage girl to death. Not classic courtroom drama, but something as gripping and more profound: a study of the middle-class nuclear family stretched to breaking point. Brown is an avid student of the ethics of crisis, and her realism in this disturbing novel makes your eyes water.