From Publishers Weekly
Eccles, best known for her cozy police procedurals (Untimely Graves
, etc.), delivers a stellar stand-alone, a novel of suspense set in post-WWII Britain that harks back to the early 20th century. In 1946, when Harriet Jardine receives a cardboard box of letters and notebooks found during the demolition and remodeling of Charnley, her family's former country house, she knows that she and her two sisters will have to face memories they would rather leave alone—in particular, their mother's disappearance decades earlier after an elaborate birthday party. Determined to seek out the truth, Harriet and her sisters act on one clue to their mother's fate by organizing a trip to Egypt, but when a mummified body turns up in the walls of Charnley, Harriet looks for answers closer to home. In lyrical prose, Eccles contrasts the world of Edwardian society, with its frivolous fashions and its prescribed manners and mores, with the devastating changes wrought by two world wars. Fine characterizations and an absorbing plot will please not just fans of Eccles's Supt. Gil Mayo series. (Jan.)
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Readers who seek a fast-paced, action-packed crime novel will not find succor here, but those who have the time and inclination to savor eloquent prose will be well satisfied. Eccles' story, set in 1946, flashes back to 1910 and the British estate called Charnley, home of the Jardine family. Sisters Vita, Harriet, and Daisy are enjoying a weekend with their brother, Marcus, their parents, and various guests. When their lovely mother, Beatrice, is missing the next day, some fear that she has run off to Egypt with the handsome Valery Iskander. Back in 1946, the sisters reunite when builders renovating their former family home uncover the mummified body of their strangled mother behind a wall. When investigating the crime, Harriet and Daisy discover that a lot more was happening in the summer of 1910 than they ever imagined. Meanwhile, Vita has secrets of her own concerning her husband, their father's best friend. Genre veteran Eccles, author of the Gil Mayo series, paints a rich and complex portrait that must be appreciated gradually, as the nuances of character unfold. Jenny McLarinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved