A widowed noblewoman deals with ghosts and murder in 1924.
Lady Adelaide Compton was unhappily married to the daring Maj. Rupert Compton, war hero and unfaithful husband. Six months after he was killed in a car accident while with another woman, Addie is hosting a small house party to reveal her improvements to Compton Chase when Rupert’s ghost turns up, claiming he must do some good deeds to get into heaven. Addie’s certainty that she’s hallucinating is only the start of her problems, which heat up when the naked corpse of her neighbor David Grant’s ex-wife, Kathleen, is found in her barn. After the local police have ruffled their share of feathers, Inspector Devenand Hunter of New Scotland Yard is called in to clean up the mess. Hunter, the British-born son of a former military police officer and an Indian woman, has often felt the lash of discrimination. Hunter and Addie are instantly attracted to each other. While Hunter tries to focus on his job, Addie, a great reader of mystery novels, does a little sleuthing on her own. Kathleen was a wild spirit with many lovers. She also dabbled in drugs, and since she appears to have died of an overdose, there’s some question as to whether her death was murder. But there is no doubt about the death of Addie’s gardener, Mr. McGrath, who apparently saw too much. Addie’s well-connected houseguests are less inclined to help the police than to hide their secrets, which involve everything from affairs to drugs. Rupert keeps turning up and sticking his nose into the mystery, and Addie is caught several times talking to him. Hunter takes advantage of Addie’s knowledge of the houseguests she’s always thought as innocent as lambs as he hunts a killer who’s anything but.
A lively debut filled with local color, red herrings, both sprightly and spritely characters, a smidgen of social commentary, and a climactic surprise.