THE GOSSAMER CORD by Philippa Carr


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Carr's venerable Cornish-based series of suspense/romances, with an initial setting in the Tudor period, has arrived at the pre-WW II era, and there is, at first, a nasty Nazi scene in Munich. But to the relief, undoubtedly, of Cart's followers, soon enough the heroine is coping on the wild Cornish coast with death and doom and mystery. ""When I look back I can see it all began one morning at breakfast..."" is Carr's opening siren call to fans, and young Violetta, twin to impulsive Dorabella (Cart's wayward sisters are apt to cause a peck of trouble), narrates. The twins travel to Munich for a brief holiday. They'll witness terrible violence, but it's also there that Dorabella will meet her husband to be--Cornishman Dermot Tregarland. Then it's on to the Tregarland mansion--an impressive house perched on the edge of a cliff, but Violetta feels, of course, ""an air of menace."" Head of the house is crippled, suspiciously amused James, Dermot's father; also in residence are pleasant housekeeper Matilda, a distant relative, and her son, strong, domineering Gordon, who manages the estate. Some chilly revelations follow: Dermot had another wife, who, although she was a good swimmer, drowned; and now there's mention of a curse. Violetta learns of the curse and a long-ago drowning from a nice neighbor with whom the Tregarlands, carrying on an ancient feud, do not speak. There are deaths and scary near-misses shortly after the birth of Dorabella's baby, whose life also is in danger. (And where is Dorabella?) Experienced Carr readers may spot the murderer and anticipate the surprise close, but most of the pleasure is the trip from ""menace"" to ""all clear."" Old-hat gothic--and somehow it's just right.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Putnam