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Author: Robert Barnard
Genre: Crime, Mystery & Thriller
Rights: UK & Comm ex Can
Pub. Date: 7th February 2011
Sarah Jane Fearing, the sole offspring of a father who desperately wants a male heir, has grown up in the imposing rural mansion of one of England’s most influential banking families. At the centre of Sarah’s world stands her charming, generous uncle Frank, the only relative who seems to have escaped the straitjacket of ponderous respectability that so effectively stifles the Fearing family. Frank’s rebellions afford Sarah delight and hope, until his extravagant lifestyle leads him deeper into debt and manoeuvres him into a disastrous marriage.
Frank’s wedding to a coldly ambitious woman produces the family’s longed-for male scion, but the parents fall to quarrels, and then to murder. And Sarah is drawn inexorably into a morass that threatens the survival of the entire family.
From the Belle Époque at the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth, A Mansion and its Murder holds its secrets to its last suspenseful moment, and proves again the author’s mettle as a mastermind of the English traditional mystery.
An enjoyable book, mainly as a result of the highly unusual life, personal and professional, given to the main character and narrator. A deft touch with the changing landscape of British life through the several decades between Victoria's Golden Jubilee and the election of Attlee's government, helps this somewhat Gothic tale along. But, a quibble! The Mansion of the title is an overblown, oversize, high Victorian monstrosity, the cover shows an attractive house - a manor perhaps but in no way a mansion. A building fitting the story would surely have produced a more intriguing cover?John Milner