The Distant Hours, By Kate Morton

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The Independent Culture

Kate Morton's third novel cleaves to the template established by her previous bestsellers: The Distant Hours is a mixture of soft-focus family drama and amateur sleuthing, set against a backdrop of English country piles.

At its centre is Edie Burchill, an editor at a small publishing house, who is surprised to discover that her mother was once familiar with the Blythes, a famous dynasty of writers and artists. Intrigued, Edie begins to investigate the connection, and is drawn into the mystery surrounding the family and its peculiarly dark history.

There are a few genuine surprises amid the gothic denouement, but the narrative proceeds at such an excruciatingly slow pace that it is a struggle to stay awake long enough to reach it.