In the spring of 1942, with the war in Europe raging, a gruesome murder shocks the rural community of Marbury, where a once-grand estate called Ellicott House has been transformed into a hospital for “shell-shocked” officers sent back from the front lines. When Detective Chief Inspector Lamb arrives to solve the case, he quickly learns that the victim, Ellicott House’s gardener Joseph Lee, had plenty of enemies in Marbury—and so he and his team have plenty of suspects. Along with his team of investigators, which includes his daughter Vera, Lamb begins to untangle the threads of rivalry and deceit that lie beneath the surface of the seemingly-peaceful countryside village. It soon becomes clear that Lee’s mysterious past is intertwined with the history of Ellicott House itself, which fell into disrepair a generation earlier after a shockingly similar murder, and the mystery deepens further when Lamb discovers that one of the prime suspects has seemingly committed suicide.As Lamb pieces together the connections between the crimes of the present and those of the past, he must dive into the darkest, most secret corners of Ellicott House to discover who is committing murder, and why.
Stephen Kelly is an award-winning writer, reporter, editor and newspaper columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and Baltimore Magazine. He has a Master of Arts degree from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and has taught writing and journalism at Hopkins, Towson University, in Baltimore, and Sweet Briar College, in Virginia. He lives in Columbia, Maryland.
"A satisfying whodunnit. A well-crafted historical mystery with characters which highly resemble a classic Agatha Christie novel. Kelly’s atmospheric portrait of Marbury makes this a refreshing read for both fans of historical and cozy mystery novels"
– Mystery Tribune
"Readers will be caught up in the mystery of Elton House as Inspector Lamb weaves together the complicated strands of an often-surprising story to uncover the truth."
– Criminal Element
"Solid. This will appeal to fans of Rennie Airth and Charles Todd."
– Publishers Weekly
"Don't we all occasionally long for an old-fashioned country mystery with a tricky plot and an eccentric cast of characters?"
– Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review [Praise for the Inspector Lamb Mystery Series]
"I most enjoyed the novel’s eccentric characters, from the séance-sharing widow to the unsuccessful playwright and his pet ball python."
– Historical Novels Review
"A deftly crafted read from cover to cover and showcases author Stephen Kelly's impressive mastery of the genre."
– Midwest Book Review
"Kelly fantastically recreates the claustrophobic mood of England under siege with period details."
– Cleveland Plain Dealer [Praise for the Inspector Lamb Mystery Series]