Seven for a Secret

Victoria Holt, Author Doubleday Books $16 (326p) ISBN 978-0-385-42406-6
The idyllic village of Harper's Green seems picture-perfect, with its Norman church, stately manor house and full complement of local busybodies. But as the prolific Holt ( Daughter of Deceit ) illustrates in this haphazard romantic mystery set in turn-of-the-century England, nasty secrets wait to be uncovered. Frederica Hammond, a spunky and expressive teenager who comes to Harper's Green to live with her Aunt Sophie, forms close bonds with Rachel Grey, a timid orphan, and Tamarisk St. Aubyns, daughter of the local gentry. Frederica immediately falls for Tamarisk's aloof and patronizing brother Crispin, who, at 20, already has a troubled past and a mysterious devotion to his two retired nannies, one of whom is quite mad. Enter debonair Gaston Marchmont, allegedly an heir to French and Scottish estates, who seduces Rachel, weds Tamarisk and terrorizes the elderly nannies before being murdered. The novel quickly unravels when Frederica and Tamarisk embark on a series of implausible adventures en route to a remote Pacific island rendezvous with Frederica's father, who abandoned her at birth. Pallid characters, insipid dialogue and bizarre plotting combine to result in a less than memorable effort. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1992
Release date: 08/01/1992
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-449-22177-8
Paperback - 465 pages - 978-0-8161-5804-1
Hardcover - 978-0-385-46800-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7451-6483-0
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