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by Elizabeth Speller

Pub Date: June 26th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-547-54752-7
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Grief, not love, yokes people together in the aftermath of the Great War.

Thirteen years ago, little Kitty, just 5 years old, disappeared from her bedroom in Easton Hall, never to be seen again. Her widowed mother, Lydia, wasting away into madness, still thinks she’s alive. Nobody else does, especially not her brother-in-law Patrick, who on that long-ago night thought he saw Lydia and Julian, her other brother-in-law, disposing of bloodstained linens. Also on hand and mired in despondency are Lydia’s half sister Frances and William Bolitho, an architect mutilated in the war come to oversee Lydia’s pet project, the installation of a stained-glass window in the family church and a maze meant to commemorate both the wartime loss of her husband, Digby, and the disappearance of their child. Rounding out the circle are Bolitho’s wife and caregiver Eleanor, their son Nicholas and Laurence Bartram (The Return of Captain John Emmett, 2011), who’s been asked by Bolitho to assist him. Bartram, still grieving over his lost love, Mary, and the deaths of his wife and unborn child, is appalled to witness a liaison between Eleanor and Patrick and to find a dead body in a vault under the chapel floor. Are the remains those of a serving girl gone missing at the Wembley exhibition? The unacknowledged wife of jack-of-all-trades David, a wartime companion of Julian? Or Kitty? As secret liaisons unfold and fired help are relocated, Bartram and Patrick almost perish in the estate’s original underground maze, and a final twist discloses the truth about Kitty, which becomes yet another secret that will be kept from most of the Hall residents and villagers in Easton Deadall.

A grim manor-house mystery with English upper-class decor and a present-day noir sensibility.