The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton, By Elizabeth Speller

Uncomfortable interior of a fading stately home

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This is the second novel featuring Elizabeth Speller's First World War-scarred amateur detective Laurence Bertram, but she has a more contemporary kind of mystery for him to investigate.

The disappearance of a little girl from the family home has cast a shadow over Easton Hall, a slightly dilapidated stately home. Speller plays down the "oddball" factor that usually categorises the families in such places, and highlights the post-war damage done instead. Although, in the case of abusive husbands like the one frail Lydia Easton was married to, and the father of the missing little girl, the war might have done some women a favour. Dispassionate yet gradually beguiling, with a sympathetic, vulnerable hero.