Australian novelist, Kate Morton, most recent book drew me in because it takes place in Cornwall, situated in the southwestern corner of England. We spent a happy week there in one of the small coastal villages a couple of years ago. My memories of the quaint villages, the spectacular scenery and more made this a must-read for me. I have read other novels by Ms. Morton and enjoyed some more than others. My favorite is The Forgotten Garden.
Readers who are drawn to family sagas with a hint of mystery set in exotic places would probably consider Ms. Morton's books a good read. As a writer, she amazes me with the complicated plotting that she has done. Twists and turns keep the reader engaged.
In this latest novel, a seventy-year-old mystery is explored, told and retold, which can become a bit tedious for the reader. However, we see the mysterious disappearance of 11-month-old Theo Edavane from the viewpoint of multiple characters. The Edavane family resides in a luxurious home in Cornwall where the three daughters and young son are lovingly cared for by parents and staff. Anthony, the father, served in WWI and suffers from what we now know as PTSD. His wife, Eleanor, does all she can to help him as well as hide the affliction from others.
The story jumps constantly from the early 1930's to the early 2000's. Alice, the youngest Edavane daughter has become a best-selling mystery novelist but the one mystery she cannot solve is her baby brother's kidnapping decades earlier. Enter Sadie Sparrow, a young police detective, who is on leave from her job after a huge gaffe she made while investigating a case. Sadie leaves London to visit a grandfather in Cornwall. While there, she becomes interested in the Edavane unsolved mystery. No body was ever found. No trace of a child who was thought to be kidnapped.
Various family members and investigators think they know what happened. Through the constant flashbacks, we see what really occurred and we watch as Sadie helps unlock the truth.
There will be readers who find this book too difficult to read because of the myltiple flashbacks being interspersed with the present-day story. The book is nearly 500 pages, so there are a great many places where we travel back to the 1930's. In fact, the majority of the book is set in that time period. There are also quite a few characters to keep straight. Again, Ms Morton has created fully-developed characters that we come to know as we read.
The mystery is solved in the end, of course, but I found the circumstances a bit too theatrical and somewhat unbelievable. The odds of this story ending the way it does in the novel in real life are astronomical. Despite this, I did enjoy the story and, of course, the setting in Cornwall. It's not a book for everyone but if you like mysteries, English tales of aristocrats, and a story that keeps you guessing, give it a try.