“A stunner, exquisitely plotted and characterized, with Todd’s trademark meticulous backdrop of World War I-era England.”—Strand Magazine
The Great War is still raging when Francesca Hatton’s adored grandfather dies on the family estate in England’s isolated Exe Valley. Among his effects, Francesca is stunned to find an unsigned letter cursing the Hattons and their descendants. Then a stranger appears, accusing her grandfather of murder. Was the loving protector Francesca remembers really a vindictive man who cultivated dangerous enemies? At the center of the intrigue is an unusual white stone hidden in a garden where Francesca once played with her five male cousins—all dead now on France’s battlefields. According to Hatton’s will, the Murder Stone must be dug up, transported to Scotland, and buried forever. But before Francesca can begin the journey, a series of ominous “accidents” occur. As Francesca sets out to pursue the truth, she also sets herself in the sights of someone determined to exact a revenge too long overdue.
Praise for The Murder Stone
“Todd’s mysteries are among the most intelligent and affecting being written these days.”—Washington Post Book World
“Seamless . . . a compelling insight into the home front during 1916.”—Chicago Tribune
“A gripping novel of family secrets set against the tragedy of World War I.”—Mystery Lovers Bookshop News
“Many twists and turns, angst-ridden characters, and an evocative historical setting. A gripping read.”—Library Journal
After six superb historicals (A Fearsome Doubt, etc.) featuring Inspector Rutledge, a man haunted by his WWI experiences, Todd misses the mark in his first stand-alone, a predictable, unengaging story of family secrets. Francesca Hatton, an unworldly young woman who's been volunteering for the Red Cross in London since the start of the Great War, returns in 1916 to her family home in the isolated Exe Valley, where her beloved grandfather, Francis Hatton, is on his death bed. After Francis dies, she finds that he kept many things from her, ranging from large properties he owned and maintained to his personal relationships. Her confusion is only compounded when a wounded ex-soldier, whose days are numbered, appears and accuses the older Hatton of having murdered his mother decades earlier. Despite her adoration of the man who reared her and her five orphaned male cousins, she begins to question her faith in him. Those doubts lead her to reexamine the mysterious deaths of her parents and numerous other relatives, though her sleuthing is little more sophisticated than that of Nancy Drew. Given the masterful way Todd's Rutledge novels capture the horrors of trench warfare and the brutal slaughter's effect on those returning to civilian life, it's all the more surprising that his portrayal of the war and its scars here is superficial. Todd's many admirers would be advised to give this a pass and wait for the next entry in the Rutledge series. FYI:Todd is the pseudonym of a mother-son writing team.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Not one of their better books.
If you've read any of their other books, this will be a disappointment. That may be partly because I was expecting it to be an Ian Rutledge story, but additionally it read like a gothic romance on the order of a Harlequin Romance mixed with Charlotte Bronte The end was somewhat surprising though, I will say that.
The Murder Stone
OH MY GAWD!! Soap opera. Convoluted and heavy with rumination, speculation, lies. I’m exhausted by it all.