The magnificent Dungeon House and gardens overlook Cumbria’s remote western coast with its mix of beaches, dunes, and fells, Roman ruins, and nuclear plant. Twenty years ago the wealthy Whiteleys called it home. But not a happy one. Malcolm Whiteley had begun to disintegrate under financial and emotional pressures. He suspected various men in their social circle of being his wife’s lover. After a disastrous party for the neighbours, Lysette told Malcolm their marriage was over. Sadly an old Winchester rifle he had been hiding was at hand….
Fast forward to today. Hannah Scarlett’s cold case team is looking into the three-year-old disappearance of Lily Elstone whose father Gray had been Malcolm’s accountant. The investigation coincides with yet another disappearance of a teenage girl: Shona Whiteley, daughter of Malcolm’s nephew Nigel, who now lives in the Dungeon House despite its tragic history. As Hannah’s team digs down into the past, doubts arise about what really happened the night Malcolm killed his wife and 16-year-old daughter Amber, then himself.
Most of the people once close to the Whiteleys still live nearby. And one Joanna Footit, and her secrets, now returns from London. While Hannah leads the complex police inquiries, it is her lover, historian Daniel Kind, who supplies Hannah with the lead that unlocks the whole. Does it come too late?
If you're a Columbo fan, stop reading my review. This book is for you.
Now, for the rest of you, this was the most surprising read of this summer. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and it was bound in yellow. There was no front cover to reveal anything about the contents. I never read the the blurb on the back of the book. I just opened it and delved in. I was immediately spellbound.
The writing is smooth and transitions throughout the book nicely, even during time elapses. You forget that you're reading and just become lost in the story.
The characters are incredibly well-formed, which is surprising since there are so many of them. This is a large group of people that we're getting to know! Edwards has one of those rare talents of making you care about a person in as little description as possible. From the moment you meet them, you get a feel for them. You judge them, but you judge them the way that they've been written. Though you could sit back and form your own opinions of them, you won't want to until later in the story. The beginning of the book is just sitting back and watching the chaos.
There's more mystery to this book than first meets the eye. It's intricately designed so that just when you think you have something figured out, you suddenly realize that you've only scratched the surface of what really happened. The characters who you've prejudged in the beginning, according to Edwards' writing, have to be judged all over again. No one is what they seem. The more you read, the further you fall into a world of deception and treachery.
If you enjoy mysteries, this one is deep. It's easy to dive into and at the end of it you have a sense of completion and resolution.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Shawn