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'[A] winning, well-plotted read... the mystery's denouement at the dance makes a glamorous and dramatic conclusion' Daily Mail 'A breezily entertaining read from the author of Lady In Waiting, with clever plotting and a beautiful setting' Sunday Express 'Clever plotting' Daily Mirror The thrilling new novel from the acclaimed author of Murder on Mustique and Lady in Waiting. January 1950. Lady Anne Coke, daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester, is in Scunthorpe on a business trip when she is called home after a sudden death in the family. She returns to Holkham Hall to discover a mystery: her beloved grandfather has been found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs with a valuable piece of jewellery in his pocket. No one can find a cause of death, and some even suspect foul play from the ghost who supposedly haunts the house. But Anne's suspicions are aroused; she grew close to her grandfather when they lived together during the war and she is determined to discover the truth. During World War II, Holkham Hall was an army base with large sections out of bounds, and 11-year-old Anne was in the care of a new governess, whom she hated and believed to be deceitful. Although she had been told to stay away from certain parts of the house, Anne used the secret passageways and the cellars to move around unnoticed. And something she saw then could unlock the mystery of her grandfather's death now ... Full of rich historical detail, this is a gripping novel of wartime secrets, intrigue and deceit.… (more)
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I have to confess that I didn't make the connection between the author of this novel and the eponymous setting until part way through, when I looked up the Lords Leicester and the Coke (pronounced 'Cook') family and realised that Anne Glenconner has actually created a wonderful fictionalised version of her own biography (which I want to read next!) And I had even watched a documentary about Holkham Hall - part of a series with a certain famous television estate agent turned presenter - and the Coke family a few months earlier, yet still failed to link the first Earl of Leicester, Thomas Coke, with his great x 5 (I think) grand niece! Duh.

When I finally figured out that Baroness Glenconner is writing about her own childhood and coming of age at Holkham Hall during the 1940s, with a gothic murder mystery about missing family jewels and sadistic governesses thrown in for good measure, I really enjoyed this novel approach - pardon the pun - to family history. Young Anne is a plucky heroine, tackling ghosts of the spectral and emotional kind while also hunting her grandfather's killer, and the author's personal knowledge of Holkham shows in every loving and vivid description. The plot seemed obvious at first but I will admit to missing a link in solving the mystery thanks to great use of a red herring subplot!

Not sure I will continue with the author's next novel, set on Mustique, but I will definitely be reading her autobiography soon! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Mar 2, 2022 |
Amazing book! The story held me in it's grip until the end. It was also fascinating to get an inside look at the postwar home life of an aristocratic family. ( )
  Christy.Riege | Dec 27, 2021 |
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'[A] winning, well-plotted read... the mystery's denouement at the dance makes a glamorous and dramatic conclusion' Daily Mail 'A breezily entertaining read from the author of Lady In Waiting, with clever plotting and a beautiful setting' Sunday Express 'Clever plotting' Daily Mirror The thrilling new novel from the acclaimed author of Murder on Mustique and Lady in Waiting. January 1950. Lady Anne Coke, daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester, is in Scunthorpe on a business trip when she is called home after a sudden death in the family. She returns to Holkham Hall to discover a mystery: her beloved grandfather has been found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs with a valuable piece of jewellery in his pocket. No one can find a cause of death, and some even suspect foul play from the ghost who supposedly haunts the house. But Anne's suspicions are aroused; she grew close to her grandfather when they lived together during the war and she is determined to discover the truth. During World War II, Holkham Hall was an army base with large sections out of bounds, and 11-year-old Anne was in the care of a new governess, whom she hated and believed to be deceitful. Although she had been told to stay away from certain parts of the house, Anne used the secret passageways and the cellars to move around unnoticed. And something she saw then could unlock the mystery of her grandfather's death now ... Full of rich historical detail, this is a gripping novel of wartime secrets, intrigue and deceit.

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