In the late 1800s, a woman investigates the mysterious circumstances behind her brother’s death.
Janie Van Duyvil has always felt like a wallflower, even among her own family. Her brother, Bayard, and her cousin Anne were best friends, leaving her out. Her imposing mother clearly favored Bay while expecting Janie to follow all her orders. When Bay takes a trip to London, he comes home with a mysterious new wife, Annabelle. No one seems to know much about Annabelle’s past, especially not Janie. But when Janie and Anne find Bay dying during a lavish party at his house, a knife stuck in his chest, everything changes. Annabelle is nowhere to be found, and Janie is the only one who hears Bay’s final word: “George.” As people gossip and the papers invent stories about Bay and Annabelle, Janie wants to find out the truth. Rumors swirl: that Annabelle was having an affair, that Bay murdered her, and that Annabelle might actually have been an imposter. Together with a reporter named Burke (and against her mother’s wishes), Janie begins to secretly investigate Bay’s life and the circumstances behind his death. As she learns more, she starts to wonder whom she can trust. Is her own family hiding things from her? What about the man from Annabelle’s past who claims to know who she really was? And does Burke really care about her, or is he just using her to get a story? The multitude of characters can be a bit confusing at first, but as the plot picks up, the novel turns into an engaging read. Willig (The Other Daughter, 2015, etc.) creates a story that is full of rich historical details about the Gilded Age in New York—the jewels, the luxurious fashions, the opulent homes, and the scandal that lurked behind the beautiful exteriors. The mystery is not easily solved, and readers will find themselves guessing until the very end. And though the story is primarily about the mystery behind Annabelle and Bay, it also features a satisfying romance between Janie and Burke.
A dark, romantic mystery full of twists and turns.