Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The Return of Captain John Emmett
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
Mystery; Historical Fiction
Source: Received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn't entirely sure about this book when I started reading it-what was it about? Where was it set? Is John Emmett the main character? Thus I didn't have any expectations and was prepared to be blown away.
What I received was a historical mystery set around post-WWI London with a widowed discharged soldier, who physically survived, but who becomes entangled in a mystery surrounding the death of Captain John Emmett. Emmett was a soldier who had kept himself at a distance from his family and friends; when he commits suicide after seemingly overcoming depression, his sister wants to know more about him. Thus she enlists the widowed Laurence Bartram, a school friend of Emmett's, to investigate. He, with the assistance of his delightful friend Charles (an avid consumer of mystery novels such as Agatha Christie's) discover a conspiracy surrounding Emmett's time in the war.
I don't want to spoil anything because this book was quite a delight for me. Although I mostly read and review YA, I love mysteries and historicals, which this book combines. I thought the writing was fantastic and it drew me deep into the book. Although it's pretty long, the pacing was mostly spot-on and suspense was sustained. I just wanted to know more and more about each character and his/her history.
My one complaint is about the solution to the mystery, which I don't think the reader could have solved. We are about as blindsided as Laurence himself is and the conspirator then spends several chapters telling the backstory for his/her crimes. I mostly enjoyed that but I think some people would find it long-winded and unnecessary.
Overall: Great book; I'm already looking forward to Speller's next book, The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton, which appears to be a sequel with Laurence Bertram. It looks like it comes out this month for British readers; not sure about us Americans-we may have to wait.
Read for Ebook and British Book Challenge.