Musician and sleuth Charles Patterson watches a young woman flee a crime scene in this historical novel with “a chilling mix of murder and the paranormal” (Publishers Weekly).
January, 1737. Snow blankets Newcastle upon Tyne, and musician Charles Patterson is engaged in a snowball fight with his wife when he spies a young woman descending from a bridge to the mudflats below with the use of a rope. In short order, they hear screams from a shop on the bridge. Inside, the scene is grizzly. Someone has murdered the shop owner and his family, all except for one little girl.
Meanwhile, Alice Gregson, a relative of the family who recently returned from London, has been upsetting the neighbors with her snobbish London airs and graces. But now her offense is grave indeed, as she happens to fit the description of the fleeing woman—and appears to have vanished into thin air. As the snow begins to clear, threatening to open the road out of town, it’s up to Charles to find Alice and bring the killer to justice.
This is book six in the Charles Patterson Mysteries.
“This pleasing latest case for Charles combines plenty of historical details, a teasing puzzle and a touch of the supernatural.” —Kirkus Reviews
Set in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1737, Southey's sixth Charles Patterson mystery (after 2011's The Ladder Dancer) offers a chilling mix of murder and the paranormal. During a January blizzard, musician sleuth Charles Patterson and his well-born wife, who are engaged in a snowball fight, spot a woman descending a rope from a bridge to the mudflats below. Moments later, the couple hear a child screaming from the upholsterer's shop on the bridge. At the shop, they find a six- or seven-year-old girl the only survivor of a slaughter that includes the upholsterer and most of his family. An adult sister recently returned from London, Alice Gregson, fits the description of the fleeing woman. A series of hindrances stymies Charles's subsequent investigation, including Alice's disappearance in the snowbound town perhaps into the spirit world Charles and only a few others can access. Historical fans will find a lot to like.