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Another foray into fantasyland with rare-book expert Lori Shepherd (Aunt Dimity and the Duke, 1994, etc.), the heiress to a charming English cottage and a considerable sum of money who has been married for two years to Bill Willis, a Boston lawyer of aristocratic lineage. All of this has come to Lori through the ghostly good offices of Aunt Dimity, long in her grave hut always on hand when needed. Lori and Bill live in the ancestral mansion of Bill's father/law partner William. When Bill's workload keeps him from a planned trip to England with Lori, Willis Sr. takes his place, but he vanishes soon after the pair's arrival at Lori's cottage in Finch, having excused himself in the middle of a chess game with Nell, the precocious daughter of Lori's neighbors Emma and Derek Harris. Willis, Lori suspects, has seized on the trip as a chance to make peace with the English branch of the family, long estranged over some ancient feud. Lori, accompanied by Nell and guided by Aunt Dimity, keeps missing Willis as she follows in his wake, but along the way she meets the younger generation of Willis cousins--Gerald, Arthur, and Lucy--partners in a London law firm recently decimated by the departure of its senior members. Now Gerald has also left, in a cloud of rumors about an ugly, aging mistress and other matters. It's at Gerald's shabby cottage that Lori at last catches up with her father-in-law--and all puzzles, past and present, are resolved. Giddily opaque plotting, a clutch of overmannered characters, and a general aura of sticky sweetness: Fans could adore it; others might like to see the author's graceful writing skills brought a bit more down to earth.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Viking