There could be nowhere more fitting for English professor Lila Maclean to spend her sabbatical than in a proper Victorian mansion. The whimsical Callahan House seems to have materialized from the pages of the mystery novels she is researching, with its enchanting towers, cozy nooks, and charming library. Unfortunately, it also features a body in the study.
Residents of Larkston have long believed that the Callahan family is cursed—the murder on the estate sets the town buzzing. Wild rumors are fueled by a gossipy blogger who delights in speculation, and further crimes only intensify the whispers and suspicions. A newly discovered manuscript, however, appears to expose startling facts beneath the fictions. When Lila steps in to sort the truth from the lies, it may cost her everything, as someone wants to make dead certain that their secrets stay hidden.
Larkston isn't Lila's home but she's been living there with Bibi, working on two books. The Victorian mansion is ideal for her writing goals. She's excited about her project on Bibi's writings (under a pseudonym) as she has loved these books and is surprised to find one additional book, never published. The literary analysis of the published books and Lila's own mystery will hopefully get her the needed tenure at Stonedale where she teaches.
Her visit is coming to an end and there is to be a great party, but first, one of Bibi's good friends, Margot, is killed and then the woman writing a gossip column. Bibi's friends, collectively called the Larks, are beside themselves and Bibi asks Lila to look into the murders and hopefully find the killer. Then Bibi's long missing sister, Ilse, reappears, and the chancellors of Callahan College and Stonedale are fighting over the Callahan house.
This is a touching story of a group of friends who have weathered years and tragedy together, with many secrets, not the least of which involve the missing Ilse. There are class differences that come into play as well as competition and the need to preserve appearances. Lila has difficulty sorting it all out, even after reading Everwell, the book never published, with the secrets it holds. This is the 5th in the Lila Maclean series, but easily read as a stand alone book. A cozy mystery with friends that hamper the process, as well as a cousin and friend who aid Lila in her sleuthing in the end. Relationships and personalities are key and keep the story moving.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.
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