To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The Return of Captain John Emmett Hardcover – July 5, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
From the Inside Flap
Aided by his friend Charles--a dauntless gentleman with detective skills cadged from mystery novels--Laurence begins asking difficult questions. What connects a group of war poets, a bitter feud within Emmett's regiment, and a hidden love affair? Was Emmett's death really a suicide, or the missing piece in a puzzling series of murders? As veterans tied to Emmett continue to turn up dead, and Laurence is forced to face the darkest corners of his own war experiences, his own survival may depend on uncovering the truth.
At once a compelling mystery and an elegant literary debut, "The Return of Captain John Emmett" blends psychological depth with lively storytelling from the golden age of British crime fiction.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The after-effects of one such incident are what put Capt. John Emmett in a veterans' hospital in 1920. Now, just as he seems to have been working his way back to some semblance of his old self, comes word that he has committed suicide. His sister Mary needs to know why and turns to the only friend of her brother's that she knows, Laurence Bartram, another British officer who's trying with not much success to create some sort of postwar life for himself --his wife and son died in childbirth while he was serving in France. Mary suspects that incompetence or something seriously amiss at the veterans' hospital may be at the root of it and asks Laurence to investigate. And, oh yes, might he also look into the who and why of all these people unknown to John's family who were given sizable bequests in his will? For help, Laurence calls on his friend Charles--an Agatha Christie aficionado and one of those guys who knows everybody who's anybody. Before long a much broader mystery comes to the fore: Not only is John Emmett dead, but so too are some other members of his company who survived the war, all of whom had been assigned to the same army execution squad. Is there a connection? Could this "suicide" have been a murder?Read more ›
Laurence Bartram, like so many other still-young men, is back from the trenches and their horrors, but only to find a very different kind of muted horror in postwar life -- the difficulty of adjusting to "normality". The only memory of his former life is the piano that his wife Louise once cherished; she and their infant son died on the same day he went "over the top" in a particularly memorable and horrifying attack. He struggles to find a life for himself, desultorily pondering a book about church architecture. Then the sister of a schoolfriend, John Emmett, seeks him out to request his help understanding why her brother has killed himself.
That's the starting point for the mystery, which rapidly turns into a compelling novel, transcending the mystery genre. True, in many ways this is a predictable story. There's a bluff sidekick, Charles (think Poirot's buddy, Hastings, with a bit more on the ball and in the little grey cells); a romantic interest, a cast of supporting characters who fulfill various predictable roles in the investigation and in Speller's portrait of postwar England. And yet... Speller handles these so well that even when one part of my brain was saying, yeah, I might have known this would happen, another part was saying "just keep reading!Read more ›
This review is not very well written, but I find it very difficult to review a book I did not like with out spoilers indicating the reasons behind my dislike.
Instead, the book is exquisitely crafted from beginning to end. The writing is balanced, moving gracefully and economically between scene, character, and action. We are given reason to care about the protagonists as well as the mystery, and much of that reason is that the protagonists themselves grow to care deeply. Painful events do not shock; they provide pain, and the narrative does not rely on sensation or scandal (though causes for both appear). The intrusions of modern sensibilities into the period story are rare enough to be jarring when they occur, but slight enough not to destroy the story. The solution is satisfying; the resolution bittersweet.
It is not a detective story in that we don't have one character untangling the story far ahead of the reader. In places, the protagonist is a little ahead, but not enough to anticipate the solution. Because the story is built of character and motive as well as circumstance and action, the reader does not miss an analytic solution. Because the characters are drawn with a skillful blend of economy and depth, character can play its full role without dominating the story.
The Return of Captain John Emmett can be called a love story, but it rests on both feminine and masculine aspects of love: romantic desire and a quest for justice, not as an abstraction but as a personal obligation. As such it should appeal to both the chick-flick set and the last-debt-to-brother-in-arms following.
This is an impressive book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Heartwarming and tragic. That is how I would describe the story that Ms. Speller has told in this book. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Shirley Schwartz
After plodding through this book, I was infuriated by the ending that was so ridiculous I could not believe that this book received such glowing reviews. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Carl Gethmann
All these four- and five-star reviews make me wonder if we read the same book. I found Elizabeth Speller's book weak, derivative, shallow, error-filled. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. B. James
This is a well written book, by a writer who knows her craft and has laid out the plot and story line very effectively. Possible spoiler alert. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jonesy
Fist in the series. Pretty well written. Should could have had better editing. Too many coincidences and he bumbles too much. Read morePublished 6 months ago by P. Oleary
At times this story seems contrived and an unreal. But it is a moving and emotionally stimulating story, with interesting people drawn against the horrors of WWI and the years just... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sidney B. Brinckerhoff
It's been nearly three years since the Great War ended, but Captain Laurence Bartram is still unable to settle into civilian life. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Melissa Embry
Excellent historical mystery with haunting theme. Good characterizations and, as far as I can tell, meticulous care for historical accuracy. Highly recommended.Published 8 months ago by ESS
Slow moving but a good plot. Nothing really apparent until late but wish it had an early hook..Published 10 months ago by Allan738