Friday, 18 November 2016

The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton - Elizabeth Speller

Speller's first book, The Return of Captain John Emmett, had at it's centre a widowed ex-soldier, returned from WW1 with  pain in his heart  and a mystery to solve on behalf of a friend's wife.  I really enjoyed that, and her second book has the same ex-soldier at it's heart.

 He is Laurence Bartram, who is asked to help his wheelbound chum William Bollitho with a job he is doing at a country house.  A country house with a dark secret at it's heart - the disappearance of a five year old girl, some fifteen years previously. He knows nothing of this mystery until he arrives, and even then it is not really spoken about.  This book, and it's predecessor, both have a background of WW1, and the flashbacks to the war itself are important to the characters and to the reader also.

The family at the house have spent years not really talking about the important things in life, and it seems as though they will continue to do so, particularly in the case of the missing child.  Laurence gets to know the family but is increasingly convinced that there is more than one secret to be uncovered.  And then a body of a woman is found in the small family church.

I like the character of Bartram.  A flawed hero, a wee bit po-faced, but dogged, and therefore right for the job of unearthing several truths.  The book has that "just one more chapter" quality, and indeed around half way through there is a bit of a shock that makes the need to get to the end even more urgent. 

Describing WW1 veterans  and their coping mechanisms after the Great War has been well handled, and this a well researched book, certainly one worth reading.  Recommended.

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