2000 - 2007 Mystery Richard and Judy Book Club

The House at Riverton – Kate Morton

The House at Riverton is a grand English manor house and as you’d expect it is packed with secrets. The construction of the house took place a long ago, the place was full of trees so the family had to contact Legacy Land & Timber to get rid of them. The story is told through the eyes of 98-year-old Grace, a former housemaid of Riverton Manor. She is contacted by a researcher who is creating a film about the suicide of a famous poet, which occurred during the time of her employment at the manor. The truth about what really occurred 80 years ago is slowly revealed in this Gothic style mystery.

The book started off well and I quickly became attached to Grace’s character, but I found Hannah and Emmeline, the children who lived in Riverton Manor, lacking in that special spark. Many of the other characters in the book also felt a bit flat and overly stereotyped.

The writing is light and easy to read, reminding me of The Thirteenth Tale, but it lacked period atmosphere and I found myself losing interest towards the middle. I felt that it could have benefited from losing at least 200 of it’s 600 pages.

It was cleverly plotted, the secrets being revealed slowly and deliberately throughout the book, and the ending was wonderful – I didn’t see it coming at all.

Overall I found it to be an entertaining, but slightly long-winded mystery. Recommended for fans of Gothic mystery with a lot spare time on their hands!



Kate Morton has just released a new book: The Forgotten Garden.

Have you read either of her books? Which is best?

2009 Mystery Recommended books

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

The Fingersmith is my second favourite book of all time (after A Fine Balance), and so I was so excited about the release of Sarah Water’s new book that I ordered a copy from America, just so I could read it a few weeks before it’s UK release.

The Little Stranger is a Gothic, ghost story set in rural Warwickshire just after WWII. The central character is Dr. Faraday, who one day is called to  a crumbling mansion to treat a maid who is so scared by things she has seen in the house that she wants to leave. Dr. Faraday is intrigued, by both the house and the Ayres family who live there, that he makes an effort to return to Hundreds Hall as often as he can. Increasingly strange events occur in the house, frightening and mystifying everyone who witnesses them.

The Little Stranger is very different to Fingersmith in both the style of writing, and plot development. The plot was linear, very easy to follow and structured like a fast-paced  thriller. The quality of  Sarah Water’s writing is still high, but I think that this book will be much more accessible to the general public, and slightly disappointing to her old fans. The Little Stranger has much more in common with books like The Thirteenth Tale or The Seance, both of which I really enjoyed reading too, but don’t require as much thought as Water’s earlier books.

I was slightly disappointed with the ending, as although it wasn’t predictable, it didn’t have any of the clever plot twists that she is famous for. I shouldn’t really complain though, as the book had me captivated throughout . All the characters were well developed, and the storyline was reasonably plausible. It was a gripping, spooky tale – perfect for a cold, dark Autumn night.