FALSE LIGHT by Caroline Llewellyn


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 Following in the fog-and-chills wake of major eminences of romantic suspense from du Maurier on, relative newcomer Llewellyn (Life Blood, 1993, etc.) sets her tangled mysteries in surroundings that vibrate with foreboding. This one centers on a grim house near the Cornish cliffs and the fogbound Atlantic, filled with neurotic artistic types. Divorced Dana Morrow, still mourning the loss of her unborn child, becomes obsessed with the brief, sad life of a mid-19th- century spiritualist, Marianna Hobhouse, married to a pioneer photographer who just might have been responsible for his young wife's death. Dana is invited to the Hobhouse home in Cornwall, now owned by Hobhouse's descendant, the famous, irascible photographer Quenton Finn. Among Finn's household and guests: Finn's son Daniel, also a photographer, and clearly attracted to Dana; a serene housekeeper, the sister of Finn's dead wife (was her plunge off the cliff accidental?); a failed photographer who is now a wildly innovative gallery owner; an eternally battling Yugoslavian couple and their child, whom Dana rescues from the cliffs; a financial adviser who collects arcane death studies; Finn's patroness, who irritates everyone; and a woman from a London design firm, a witchy being of no particular moral compass whose seductive powers are considerable. Resentment and simmering anger combine to provoke new violence in the old Hobhouse environs. There'll be four murders in all (two viewed in flashbacks), much to-ing and fro-ing through the moors, and a climax featuring Dana's skin-scraping escape from the murderer across a rooftop while flames pop below. No classic murder mystery this; victims and the lethal predator are none too difficult to spot. But solid info on the art of photography, a variety of scandals, contemporary and historical, and that wonderful, moody setting shape a satisfying entertainment.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-82460-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1996


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