Friday, 25 April 2014

An Inquiry into Love and Death

Finished April 24
An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James, read by Rosalyn Landor

This novel is set in 1924. Jillian Leigh is 22, a student at Oxford, when she is informed of her uncle Toby's death in Rothewell, a small coastal village in Dorsetshire. Jillian's parents are in Paris, and they've asked her to go sort our her uncle's belongings.
But the job is much bigger than that as it turns out. First, Jillian has to identify her uncle's body, and then the village offers some unusual challenges. Toby was a ghost hunter, wandering the countryside, investigating the appearances of ghosts and trying to figure out how to set them to rest. The ghost of renown in Rothewell is Walking John, and he has haunted the forest and the bay for decades. Jillian's first night in Barrow House, where her uncle had stayed, brings her clawings on her bedroom window and a deep sense of unease. As she finds objects left for her discovery, and the ghost grows more insistent, she also finds her uncle's journal. Here she learns that he might have found more than ghosts in Rothewell, and begins to believe his death may not have been an accident after all.
When Scotland Yard detective Drew Merriken appears on her doorstep, things grow more complicated. The mutual attraction between Jillian and Drew adds another layer to this story. The sense of village life is strong here, and Jillian finds that she may have personal ties to Rothewell that throw her whole sense of herself off kilter.
This is a page-turner, with an interesting twist or two. I can see why it was shortlisted for the OLA Evergreen Award for 2014. The narrator does an excellent job of immersing you in the place and time of this novel.

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