When Great War veteran Laurence Bartram arrives in Easton Deadall, he is struck by the beauty of the place: a crumbling manor, a venerable church, and a memorial to the village's soldiers, almost all of whom died in one bloody battle. Now peace prevails, but Easton Deadall remains haunted by tragedy - as does the Easton family.
In 1911, five-year-old Kitty disappeared from her bed and has not been seen in thirteen years; only her fragile mother still believes she is alive. While Laurence is a guest of the manor, a maid vanishes in a sinister echo of Kitty's disappearance. And when a body is discovered in the manor's ancient church, Laurence is drawn into the grounds' forgotten places, where deadly secrets lie in wait.
©2010 Elizabeth Speller (P)2012 Dreamscape Media, LLC
"Intriguing....The intelligent depiction of the many wounds of war, suffered not only in the trenches but also on the home front, resonates." (Publishers Weekly)
"Speller's writing is gorgeous." (Kate Saunders, The Times, London)
"Dispassionate yet gradually beguiling, with a sympathetic, vulnerable hero." (The Independent)
music nut, history buff
This is one of those mysteries that has even more twists and turns than promised. It takes a while to get going, but when it does, it turns into a shocking race to the end.
This is not a real mystery. It is the psychological portrait of the Easton family as seen through the eyes of Laurence Bartram and told with flashbacks from other family members.
Kitty Easton is mentioned periodically but is NOT the focus of the book, although at the end we do find out what happened to her.
But rather the author has chosen to draw a psychological protrait of a disfunctional family who have been torn apart by WW1 and the death of the family heir in that war.Gradually we learn all the misery of the family and their emotional problems and ailments. They are trying to rebuild the family estate and create a memorial for the dead of the village. Bit by bit we learn that the glorious heir was really a syphilitic daredevil and drunkard who infected his wife and lead the whole regiment of villagers to their death -- the family is covering up all the facts about him which gradually emerges through conversations and flashbakcs.
The family and various servants, past and present, are all haunted by past events from which they have never emotionally recovered. They reach some sort of emotional resolution at the end. The books is about peeling back the layers of truth about this family, its relatives and its servants.
Frankly I did NOT like this book, I did not consider it a mystery, and was totally bored by it. The author does wite well, although she spends way too much time on trivial detail as way to create the atmosphere. She is one of thoise writer who believe in "telling" the reader rather than "showing" the reader. This makes the whole story a rather passive one.
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