An involving romantic mystery that confirms the status of Llewellyn (The Lady of the Labyrinth, 1990, etc.) as a worthy contender for membership in the DuMaurier, Whitney, Stewart & Holt sorority of richly atmospheric suspense writers. Jo Treleven, a children's book illustrator, has come to England from her native Canada after the sailing death of her husband. With her baby son, she moves into Longbarrow, the Cotswolds cottage she inherited from her grandmother, intending to live there long enough to let ghosts rest back home. She also wants to track down a copy of her grandmother's one and only novel, Life Blood, most copies of which were destroyed in the bombings of WW II. Jo's cottage is somewhat spookily remote from the rest of the village, and 50 years earlier was the site of a murder. Adding to its eerie atmosphere is its location near a ``barrow,'' one of the ancient burial mounds that abound in the Cotswolds region around which many myths—most violent and disturbing—have gathered. To her surprise, Jo learns that the nearby Mallabys, a wealthy blue- blood publishing family, are her distant relatives. They do not seem very happy, however, with their newly discovered kinswoman. As Jo sets about searching for her grandmother's novel, she discovers something strange: all copies in libraries throughout Britain have been gutted by vandals. Someone does not want the contents of that book known. Through reviews, though, Jo learns that the characters in the missing novel resemble the Mallabys and her grandparents, and that betrayal and murder are presented very convincingly.... Refusing to be deterred by the Mallabys' cold warnings, Jo persists with her search, supported by someone who promises to become more than a friend, David Cornelius, the handsome American proprietor of a nearby farm. Despite the vague characterization of the romantic hero: a satisfying story with descriptions of the English countryside so vivid that you can almost smell the hay.
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