Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Alec Halsey Mystery #4
Publication Date: 11/15/19
Number of Pages: 414
We’ve had to wait sooooooo long for this book that I had begun to fear that we’d never see it. Four years is a long time between books in a series and I really wish I’d gone back and re-read the first three before I started this book. This one can certainly be read as a stand-alone, but the relationships between all of the characters are much richer to you if you’ve read them all. I understand that more books are planned for the series – thank goodness – and this book nicely sets up what I’m guessing will be the next book.
As with any Lucinda Brant book, the writing is excellent, the characters are fully developed and robust, and the research is impeccable. Happily, I learned something new in this book (and it is a large part of the focus of the book) – and the Author’s Notes section explains it very well. I have always thought that Primogeniture was the ONLY law dealing with succession, estates, inheritance, etc. – but that isn’t the case. One lone county, Kent, in England has a different law – Gavelkind. It is certainly different from Primogeniture and I can see where it would definitely take a huge bite out of a family’s wealth and soon leave them with nothing.
Alec Halsey, diplomat, husband, father-to-be and Marquess has come to his huge, sprawling, long-neglected estate in Kent, along with his wife Selina to await the birth of their first child. Alec inherited the vast estate about a year earlier when his brother was murdered. If it were up to Alec, he’d tear the pile down and build a new and modern structure with all of the updates and comforts of a newer home. However, Selina loves the old place and Alec will do anything to keep the love of his life happy. So, they are pouring boatloads of money into repairing, refurbishing and updating the old place. Both Selina and Alec are very anxious about the impending birth and having the estate to focus on gives them a bit of relief from the constant worry.
Alec very quickly gets more distractions than he knows what to do with – a boy goes missing and when his body is found they discover he was brutally murdered. Then, beneath a section where they were replacing the paving stones, they find a room that isn’t on any of the architectural drawings of the estate. Is it a crypt? What could a poor thirteen-year-old boy have done to be so brutally murdered? Alec has a lot more questions than answers, but he’s determined to solve ALL of the mysteries.
Alec quickly realizes that not all is as it seems at Deer Park and people have been keeping secrets from him as well as ignoring his orders. Chief among those secret keepers is his beloved uncle, Plantagenet Halsey. Why is his uncle thwarting his efforts and keeping secrets? Who murdered that poor boy they found and caused the death of yet another young boy?
If you’ve read the three earlier books, you probably had your suspicions about certain things. Well, you’ll find which suspicions were true and which weren’t. If you haven’t read the earlier books, you’ll still learn all about Alex’s early life and why his family cast him out. You’ll also learn a number of things about the Halsey family that weren’t even hinted at in earlier works – so new information for all of us there.
I thought that some of the revelations – especially with his uncle – drug out a bit too long. I was already very tired of it – and knew what it was going to be – long before it happened. There really wasn’t any reason for it to drag on that long and it had no bearing on the solution to the murder. I also wish we could have seen more of Selina this time around, but, she was ready to give birth at any second and couldn’t be out tromping around the countryside. Maybe we’ll get more of her in the next book.
I highly recommend this author, this book and this series. I can’t wait for the next one – and hopefully, it won’t be four years in the making.