Though billed as “a novel of suspense,” Barnard’s 10th outing for Yorkshire’s Det. Insp. Charlie Peace (after 2009’s The Killings on Jubilee Terrace) forgoes any real sense of danger or urgency for a verbose, witty excursion into the secrets of history and family. The book splits its measured time between Charlie and his wife, Felicity, a writer recently appointed to the trust board of Walbrook Manor, an old country house donated to the state by owner Rupert Fiennes. She discovers that Walbrook’s 1930s high point as a center for artistic gatherings and pacifist activism may have masked disturbing political allegiances, while her husband investigates the discovery of decades-old human bones in a nearby pond. Their parallel courses gradually converge on the past rivalry between the stately home’s two sets of ancestral owners, the Fienneses and the Quarleses. Barnard’s animated, articulate characters are a pleasure to spend time with, but his focus on past events leads to a static modern-day story likely to satisfy only longtime series fans. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2011 Release date: 01/03/2012 Genre: Fiction
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