AFTERWARD by Catherine M. Rae


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Rae's cozy tales of buried scandals and genteel survival tactics, set in the (usually comfortably well-off) Manhattan of several decades ago (Sarah Cobb, 1990; Julia's Story, 1989, etc.), are becoming tighter, livelier, and, in short, better and better. This story involving the disappearance of a lovely woman, two murders, and a bang-up surprise ending--quietly, warmly narrated--is one of the author's best. In 1904, narrator Maud Evans's adored mother and brothers died in an excursion-boat explosion, leaving behind Maud, her beautiful, volatile sister Angle, two tiny other sisters, and Papa--who, wild with grief and deep into drink, had terrible spells of rage. (Later, Maud chose not to think that his death from a fall was caused by Angle.) With poverty threatening, Angle sets out to marry a rich man--and succeeds. Her husband is wealthy Derek Blauvelt, who pays for Maud's Manhattan household of tots and maid. But Angle will abruptly leave Derek and simply disappear. Derek, surprisingly, becomes a doting avuncular friend, and the little sisters visit his country estate--by this time free, fortunately, of Derek's terrifying housekeeper, a black-clad Mrs. Danvers sort. Meanwhile, although there are disquieting unseen invasions of the Manhattan house, Maud is happy in a bookstore job and finds love. Angle remains absent--until there's a note to Maud that summons her to a night of terror. Before the final revelations, there'll be two grisly murders and Angle's reappearance. A congenial narration, pleasant ambiance, and a satisfying mystery.

Pub Date: March 11th, 1992
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: St. Martin's