A chatty, peaches-and-cream gothic with just a touch of the grisly--that something nasty in the attic--to give a periodic zing to its leisurely pace. Orphan Carla McAllister has come to Milverton Hall in Victorian Yorkshire (her childhood village) to be a companion to Elsa, deranged wife of Thorn Lytton, master of Milverton. And Carla will gradually extract the story of Thorn's tragedy: he was once engaged to marry the exquisitely lovely Caprice Langham, but she disappeared; and so Thorn married her cool sister Elsa--whose fiancÃ‰, a young army officer, was killed in a mysterious cliff-fall; the marriage was wretched, and Elsa went mad. So now Carla, who as a child adored the kind and ethereal Caprice, is strangely haunted by the disappearance . . . while Elsa prattles before her doll house, a replica of Milverton. And other household members offer Carla snatches of confidences: Thorn's aloof sister Rowena, who has spurned the courtship of Elliot Cliffe (in whom Carla has a mild romantic interest); Judith, Thorn's nice sister-in-law; Jeremy, Rowena's rakehell twin; and Thorn's mother, a mute notewriter since a heart attack. Night sounds of silvery laughter and dancing, lights in the old wing, a warning from a medium, the sudden violent death of Elsa's maid--they all lead up to Carla's final confrontation with the murderer and the dreadful skeletal hand in the attic. A tried and true recipe, with generous and decorative additives, competently warmed-over.