Top positive review
17 of 18 people found this helpful
Solid 4 stars
on June 7, 2012
It's England in 1924, after World War I. Laurence (Laurie) Bartram goes to Easton Deadall, an English village, to restore the village church. Laurence learns of a major mystery shortly upon his arrival; a little girl named Kitty Easton, then age five, was taken from her bed in 1911 and hasn't been found or heard from. Kitty would now be eighteen. Everyone assumes she must be dead, with the exception of her mother.
But there is even more mystery and drama in the Easton family. Many of the men of the village were killed in the Great War, leaving behind mostly women, children, and older men. Those who remain certainly don't have the staff they once did, nor do they have the people available to hire new staff. There are family secrets, an underground chapel one of the women used because her husband didn't approve of her Roman Catholic faith. Another woman's body is found dead in the chapel. Maggie, a 15-year-old girl of the staff goes missing at a fair, and the police aren't much help because of her age.
Readers who like mysteries will like this novel. There are many twists and turns; readers don't know who might have done what until the very end, whether Kitty is alive, or where Kitty and Maggie have been. The style and mood help one visualize a British estate of the times. The word choices are definitely British, particularly in the conversations. Speller often makes the weather gloomy, and the places and things she describes on the estate add to the somber mood. Readers feel as if they're in 1924 England.
There is a little harsh language, used for effect, among the men. After all, many of the men who survive have just seen war, and they will use such language. The bad language is not excessive, and most adult readers of mystery-thrillers expect some bad language, but enough to alert highly-sensitive readers. There is also one point where Bartram visits a brothel in an attempt to locate the two missing young women (Kitty and Maggie), with thorough descriptions of things there - again, not over-the-top for the genre, but not for overly-sensitive readers.
Considering what I have pointed out, I can give this novel a solid 4-star rating. If we had fractions, I would call it about a 4.5 to 4.75. I would be interested in other works by Speller.