Anyone who yearns for the good old days should think twice before approaching this gritty tale.
Lane Winslow grew up in an affluent English household and served as a spy during World War II. A failed romance and lack of family ties have encouraged her move to rural King’s Cove, British Columbia, in search of tranquility. Beautiful and self-sufficient, she has already been involved with two murder cases (Death in a Darkening Mist, 2017, etc.) and forged a working relationship with Inspector Darling that each secretly hopes may lead to more. When sisters Gwen and Mabel Hughes and their mother, Gladys, discover human remains after the ceiling of their root cellar partly collapses, their first thought is to call Lane because of her in with the police. Although there’s obviously no need to rush in a death whose date and cause are unknown, Darling and Constable Ames are determined to at least identify the bones, which appear to be those of a child or small woman who died sometime during the 37 years after the root cellar was built around 1910. Darling asks Lane to help out by trying to identify who went missing all those years ago. Most of the community supports her efforts, but there are plenty of secrets buried in the past. At length the search focuses on the Anscomb family, who vanished from the area after an unsuccessful attempt to grow apples, since they had several young children fitting the description. Flashbacks to 1910 reveal a hard life with no modern conveniences and the relentless work schedule required to keep families alive. Even though her friends continue to hide things, Lane manages to learn a great deal—maybe too much, as she realizes when a ghost returns from the past and threatens her safety.
A fascinating picture of a life in which many people spent every waking hour working and a disturbing look at the fate of orphaned children raise this mystery above the ordinary.