A stunning psychological thriller set in Cumbria past and present, from the award-winning author of the Dalziel and Pascoe series Things move slowly in the tiny Cumbrian village of Illthwaite, but all that's about to change.
Post-grad Sam Flood and historian Miguel Mercado first meet at The Stranger House, Illwaithe's local inn.
Sam is there to find information on her grandmother, who left four decades before, while Mig's research stretches back to the English Reformation, four centuries ago.
The pair have nothing in common, yet their paths become increasingly entangled as they pursue their separate quests.
Together they will discover who to trust and who to fear in this ancient village where the inhabitants are determined to keep the past buried.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 640 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 03/09/2009
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9780007334766
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Review by thorold
This is basically <i>Hamlet</i>-without-the-prince. At the blacker end of Hill's crime fiction, but still within the range of things he covers in his Dalziel and Pascoe novels. But without Dalziel and Pascoe, which is fair enough, given that Hill has been churning out D&P novels for the last forty years: he deserves a break. Unfortunately, he doesn't really give us much to fill the gap.The two young strangers-in-town who act as POV characters, an Australian mathematician and a Spanish historian, are lively and interesting. However, like Hill's younger police officers in the more recent D&P novels, they don't quite work as convincing characters. He does a much more convincing job with the older characters - the pub landlady, the squire, the smith. With his usual knack for picking the brighter moments in British history, this book takes the forced deportation of British children to Australia in the 1950s and 60s as one central theme, and the persecution of Roman Catholic priests under Elizabeth I as another. All set, naturally, in a small Cumbrian village where people have been keeping their dark secrets hidden for far too long.The story comes loaded with a certain amount of mythical portentousness and supernatural visions, which aren't quite essential to the story, but are also not quite explained away as nonsense. This leaves us with the uncomfortable feeling that the author might be expecting us to take the hocuspocus seriously, something I wouldn't have thought a writer in Hill's position and with his undoubted technical skill needed to resort to. So: good by most standards, but not quite up to what one might expect from Hill.