For those looking for a simple mystery, this book delivers well, but for those who prefer more depth of character than the run-of-the-mill mystery tale this is quite a find. A young, out of work woman, is offered a simple job. Look after this big house while the owners are away on vacation. All seems good until one small thing after another cause Anna to become suspicious and to start asking questions of the locals. When somebody tells her that she is the spitting image of the owner’s missing daughter things take a definite turn to the sinister. Then the gardener is badly injured in a freak accident and Anna begins to wonder just why she had been recruited.
This is a multilayered tale of great complexity and depth and gives up its secrets tantalisingly slowly. For a tale to move at this pace is a brave move by a first time author in a world where most publishers will not look at a book unless there is either an explosion or at least one body on the first page. Here is a confident author determined to make her own mark in her own way and whilst acknowledging the accepted tropes, still independent enough to ignore them when it suits.
It’s also refreshing to follow a tale as rich as this when most of the market is dominated by simple genre clones. Carswell’s eye for character nuances is sharp and belies her debut author status. The romance elements are almost as unpredictable as the main mystery and equally as compelling. Her characters lift from the page and remain as unpredictable as the central tale. Imagine the intriguing mysteries of Agatha Christie told through the eyes of the well-rounded characters of Jane Austin and one begins to sense a serious new talent emerging here. Carswell is clearly a talented new author for us all to enjoy with a well crafted and complex story.
Review by Claire Ashton