WW I history comes alive with this novel set in early 1920's England. The main character, Laurence Bartram, is approached by the sister of Capt. John..Show More » Emmett to discover why he committed suicide and left a substantial monetary bequeath to some unknown people. The story, especially about what soldiers had to endure during WWI is scary, sad and brutal. As I have read several books about WWI, including the mystery series of Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd, I found myself familiar with the term "shell-shock" (we know it as PTSD--post-traumatic stress disorder). The author, Elizabeth Speller, did a very good job of explaining how soldiers with the symptoms were treated during and after the war. Actually, I thought I knew a lot about the subject. I learned so much from this book.
The things I loved about the book was a great description of day to day living by former soldiers after WWI. The narrator was wonderful with the mood of the book and the English accents. The pace of the story was good and there were some twists and turns that were fun.
The things less than great about the book was that the final solution came out of the blue and sudden. It wasn't a solution that was anticipated from the clues provided. Also, I have a feeling that the author will see some improvement in character development going forward. I will definitely get the next book by Speller. I plan to refer this book to several of my friends that enjoy history novels.
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 flashback..Show More »s 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.