Mystery Books for Sale

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by Sally Spedding
Allison and Busby, January 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0749083123

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lucy Mitchell toils at a publishing house in London and unhappily contemplates the long, dull road ahead of her. When a famous author rapes her, she breaks out of her rut and decides to move to Wales, the location of her favorite childhood storybook. Nearing her 30th birthday and depending on a legacy that her late father left her, she finds a place for sale in Rhayader called Ravenstone Hall, breaks off her engagement, runs from her old life and leaves London.

But things do not look promising when she gets to the Hall. The owner is an alcoholic retired policeman and his son, a good-looking forest worker, is angry and against the sale of the Hall. And the weather itself is cold, wet and hostile.

The nearby townspeople tell her rumors of murder, madness and Druid pagan rituals at Ravenstone Hall. Indeed, 14 years before, the last lady of the house had been found murdered and mutilated in the most horrid of ways. The townsfolk steer clear of the owners of the property and there are stories of another son who suddenly disappeared.

Meanwhile, the author who raped Lucy is getting his come-uppance from a most unexpected direction. And a handsome, sociopathic stranger flies in from Australia intent on getting to Ravenstone Hall by the eve of Samhain in order to fulfil what he thinks is his destiny.

All through this book the weather takes a prominent place. It's cold and wet. Mud and muck mires the roads and stops people in their tracks. Fog envelopes everything. The same can be said for the overall sensibilities of the readers. The overabundance of local jargon and vernacular makes comprehension of the dialogue difficult for anyone not used to Welsh or British slang.

The characters don't even admit the truth to themselves so the readers have no hope to try figure anything out. The sense of tension is supposed to build, but the story just seems to go on and on, as questions are asked but no full answers ever found.

The stomach-turning side story of a mad abuser and his willing, but suffering, victim has nothing at all to do with the main tale. I'm still not sure why it was included in this book

The last climatic scene takes place in a muddy field with the knife-wielding killer madly lusting for more blood. But when suddenly everyone stops running for their lives to take the time to call questions to each other to clear up all the unanswered problems to the mystery, I pretty much regretted the time I spent reading this book. NIGHT WITH NO STARS was a disappointment.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, April 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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