REVIEW: An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James
If you love a good mystery filled with eerie scratches at the window, unusual characters, an unsolved murder, an innocent heroine assisted by intriguing Scotland Yard inspectors, a seaside 1920s English setting reminiscent of beloved Gothic Romance novels of the past, then AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH will enthrall you.
In 1924, Jillian Leigh is a student at Oxford when she learns of her uncle’s sudden death. Her parents are in Paris indefinitely, so they’ve asked Jillian to claim her uncle’s belongings, plus settle his affairs on her own. Had they known that she’d have to identify his body which fell from the cliffs in a remote seaside town, would they have come to her aid?
The surprises don’t stop there, either. Her uncle’s death doesn’t seem accidental, and Jillian isn’t the only one to suspect murder. Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken suspects Jillian of her uncle’s murder, if his interrogation of her is any indication. It doesn’t take long to dispel that suspicion, but there is an instant spark of attraction between them that neither can deny.
Jillian’s Uncle Toby had been on one of his ghost hunting escapades in Rothewell, a small seaside town with a legendary ghost. After Jillian finishes with the coroner, she must go to Barrow House to gather her uncle’s possessions. She doesn’t expect it to take long, but she also doesn’t expect the strange items left in odd places within the house. She hadn’t seen her uncle for a few years prior to his death, due to his estrangement from her parents for unknown reasons. She knew of his odd occupation, even if she didn’t understand it, and remembers quietly reading next to him as a child. Although he was thought of as an eccentric man, Jillian had found peace in their mutually observed silence with one another. What have her parents kept from her about their relationship with this man she knows so little about?
If Jillian’s dreams the first night spent in Barrow House are any indication, Rothewell’s ghosts are not just a rumor…and one of them seems to want her to come out and play…
AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH lays out its clues just like any great mystery, but it’s the variety of characters, including the ghosts, who add a very fun and spooky element to the story.
Jillian has been sheltered by her well-educated parents and sent off to continue her own education, surrounded by girls just like her. She’s innocent in many ways, so jaunting off to Rothewell is more than she’s ever done on her own. Meeting Drew, who is dark and mysterious, is just one part of her journey into womanhood. Will she have the strength to withstand the forces in Rothewell, human and otherwise, that are determined to remove all her innocence?
AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH is reminiscent of the beloved Gothics written years ago. There’s a haunted setting, a young innocent heroine, a brave hero and evil yet to be revealed. The plot swirls and the anticipation builds as the mystery unravels, jangling your nerves. Add in a stormy night while you’re reading and you’ll heighten the experience, swearing you hear what Jillian does in the novel. Simone St. James’ detailed descriptive style easily transports the reader to a place that beckons the unknown. Bound to become a classic, AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH is the perfect revival of the well-loved Gothic romance novel.
Another great book by Simone St. James – read the review at TBR Mountain Range.
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