A decorous, deliberate and ingratiatingly formal narrative of a Gothic tale, as an ageing Archdesson goes back into the past to bring to light the curious, intricate story of Bride's Castle, the Castle of Helme in Westmore land. It is the story of a contemplated crime -- and an accidental aftermath, of an Italian room of great value, an old clock, and an oubliette. The story opens in the present with the wedding of Mary Helms, only daughter of the 6th Earl of Skelby, who was to meet his death on the night of his wedding at the hands of the father of the bridegroom. Then it flashes back to the past, to the disappearance of Moll Skreeb, unacknowledged wife of the fifth Earl of Skelby, to the marriage which placed the legitimacy of the heir in jeopardy and which led to a second tragedy -- and a third. No tension here, but atmosphere, romance, and mystery developed with cool deductive logic and skillful detail.