cover image The Magpie Tree

The Magpie Tree

Katherine Stansfield. Allison & Busby, $19.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-74-902171-9

Set in 1844, Stansfield’s atmospheric second Cornish Mystery (after Falling Creatures) introduces practical, scientifically inclined Anna Drake, who wants to start her own detective agency. Anna is delighted when Sir Vivian Orton offers her £30 to prove that a missing village boy was snatched by two witches who have taken up residence in an old summer house in the woods. But Anna learns quickly that logic doesn’t always apply in rural Cornwall. Fortunately, her partner, Shilly, is a native who knows the mysterious ways of her people down in her bones. The “witches” protest that they are only German travelers on a drawing holiday. Yet Shilly sees that the woods are indeed bewitched, and the canny magpies roosting in the tree that grows by St. Nectan’s well may be the key to what has happened to the missing child. Stansfield gives a haunting evocation of a place and time when superstition and logic coexisted in uneasy alliance, and challenges the reader to decide which was more real. (June)