After the death of her mentor, a tour guide from a small village in the Berkshires takes an eccentric family to a quite different small village in the U.K.
There’s clearly trouble brewing in Lydfield, Connecticut. The Gordon Development Corporation has plans to build a set of town homes in the meadow next to the B&B owned by the mother of Emily Ryder (Murder Run, 2015, etc.). As the company wrangles to get necessary permissions from the Planning Commission, Chris Cooper, who heads the commission, dies in a nasty fall while repairing the slate roof on actress Miranda Shaw’s McMansion. Emily is heartbroken, since Chris has been her guiding light ever since her own father left when she was a child. Nevertheless, she’s agreed to take the Curtis family—siblings Harriet, tiny, fey Pru, and incoherent Silas—to the annual fete of Lydfield’s sister village, Lydfield-in-the-Moor, near Dartmoor in the U.K. Since she can’t get Trooper Dave Roberts to see Chris’ death as anything but an accident, she might as well fulfill her obligation to her clients. Frome’s florid descriptions of the physical space and Emily’s obscure inner monologues convey little idea of what life is like in either Lydfield. Emily watches the Curtises’ behavior spiral increasingly out of control but does nothing to intervene as things go from bad to worse to even worse.
Since the intricate relationships among villagers that form the beating heart of every village mystery are absent on both sides of the Atlantic, Frome’s story remains both overwrought and lifeless.