A ho-hum mystery of sorts from megaselling Bradford (A Sudden Change of Heart, 1999, etc.), this about a young actress who’s haunted by a violent attack on her closest chums.
Katie Byrne was only 17 when her friend Denise was raped and murdered by a mysterious assailant who also brutally beat their chum Carly and left her for dead. Carly sunk into a permanent vegetative state, and the assailant's identity remained unknown. Flash forward ten years: Kate is a star student at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and has been tapped for a lead role in a play about the Brontë sisters headed for Broadway. She's hesitant, not wanting to return to America, but her glamorous roommate, Xenia Leyburn, persuades her to think it over at the stately Yorkshire home of Xenia's sister-in-law Verity, Lady Hawes. Much talk ensues about stately homes in general and the Brontës in particular—in fact, Leyburn Hall is not far from the very moors they once walked. In due time, a psychic housekeeper divines that something is troubling Kate, who cannot forget the attack, no matter how pleasant her surroundings. She drifts around the manse, meeting countless other relatives and servants, and basically holes up to die, to sleep, perchance to . . . to quote from plays safely in the public domain for centuries, namely, Hamlet. Bradford even has her heroine spout the famous soliloquy a few times, but that's about it for theatrical authenticity. Eventually, after some gentle prodding by Xenia, Verity, and the spooky housekeeper, Kate decides to accept the Emily Brontë role and return to New York. Despite bewildering onstage flashbacks, evidently caused by post-traumatic-stress syndrome and survivor's guilt, she visits Carly faithfully. Lo and behold, her friend miraculously snaps back into full consciousness after ten years, and the murderer is soon brought to justice.
Bradford's chatterbox style and cast of thousands create nothing but confusion, but her fans probably won't care.