Obsession with an ancient manor house may be the motive for murder.
Budding author Daphne du Maurier is leaving London for a trip to her beloved Cornwall to see her friend Ellen Hamilton finally marry Teddy Grimshaw, the father of their child, at her home, Thornleigh Manor. Torn apart by the Great War before they could marry, the couple is now reunited, and Teddy has pledged to return Ellen’s moldering mansion to its former glory. When Teddy is found murdered on the day of the wedding, Ellen is accused by Teddy’s ex-wife and her daughter. The will leaving most of his large estate to Ellen only brings out the worst in Teddy’s grasping family. Daphne, who’s in love with Major Browning, the officer whose mysterious connection to Scotland Yard was revealed in their last adventure (Peril at Somner House, 2010, etc.), is crushed when she hears of his engagement to the Earl of Rutland’s daughter. Browning assures Daphne that the engagement is a sham; he’s investigating not only Teddy’s murder but also some shady business practices. Indeed there’s much to keep him busy, like the death of Teddy’s ex. With so much money and such high emotions at stake, there’s no lack of suspects. It’s up to Daphne and Browning to winnow the clues and solve the crimes.
Challis’ underwhelming mysteries, loosely based on the novelist’s life, put Daphne du Maurier in situations that will later turn up in her novels. In this case, think Manderley.