If you love Downton Abby, this is mandatory reading. The year is 1924, the place is a small manor - appropriately named Easton Deadall. No, all are not dead. Its name was possibly a corruption of Daedalus, the mythical creator of the famous labyrinth on Crete - the one that held the Minotaur. There are mazes at Easton Deadall. And there are monsters. Some of the mazes are visible; some are not. The same goes for the monsters.
Five-year old Kitty disappeared in 1911 and had never been heard from again. Her mother, Lydia, refuses to declare her dead and some would not quarrel with that opinion, even if they are not willing to agree openly. As the story progresses, we find arguments for and against Kitty's demise, and we really have no idea until the end of the tale. That's what makes it so delicious.
Many people in this novel are not really what they seem to be. For the men, The Great War lies at the root of who they were and who they are. War changes everything. Lawrence Bertram, also a veteran of the first World War, is invited to study the manor by William Bolitho, a wheelchair-bound (because of the war) architect and to analyze its design value. In order to complete that task, he must involve himself in the mysteries and secrets of those who reside at the manor.
Those inhabitants and their kith and kin include Lydia Easton, widowed mistress of the estate, whose health is waning, her half-sister, Frances who is (gasp!) American, Lydia's brothers in law - Julian and Patrick (who are, to use a British expression, as like as chalk and cheese), the Bolithos and David and his wife, Susan, who work on the property. All of them have secrets, and many of those secrets have to do with the Easton men's behavior as soldiers. Lawrence, who turns out to be not only an architecture expert but also a mystery solver, learns more about Kitty than the family - enmeshed in their own secrets and sorrows - could ever discover.
This is a novel with wonderful twist and turns - both past and current - that crop up unexpectedly. Just when we become comfortable with one answer, another one appears. In fact, the whole plot is very much like a - well, like a labyrinth!
To learn more about this and other books, visit the Boulder City Library at 701 Adams Boulevard, 293-1281, www.bouldercitylibrary.org