Had Barbara Pym written about suburban New England in the 21st century, she might have focused on Littlefield, Massachusetts, recently named one of the Ten Best Places to Live in America.
Full of psychologists and college professors, Littlefield is proud of its fine schools, its girls' soccer teams, its leafy streets and quaint village centre.In fact, a sociologist from the University of Chicago, Dr. Clarice Watkins, has moved to Littlefield for a year to study the elements of 'good quality of life'. Yet, no sooner has she arrived than someone begins poisoning the town dogs.
Are the poisonings in protest to an off-leash proposal for Baldwin Park - the subject of much town debate - or the sign of a deeper disorder? Why, for instance, does Clarice's lovely neighbour Margaret Downing look so haunted and her nice husband so frightened? Why do children keep pulling fire alarms at the middle school? Why are there so many psychologists in town?And who is spray-painting menacing graffiti all over town - could it be the young bearded Pakistani who bakes doughnuts every morning at the Forge Café?