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The Murder Stone by Charles Todd

The Murder Stone by Charles Todd
Charles Todd’s The Murder Stone is an enjoyable gothic mystery with a touch of romance set during the Great War. Francesca Hatton, a nurse on the home front, is called to tend to her dying grandfather at his English estate. What was for her a place of wonderful childhood memories is now all in shadows, not only because of her grandfather’s impending death, but also because the war has taken the lives of her beloved boy cousins.

All orphans, the children grew up together under their grandfather’s watchful eye, but now Francesca is the only one left. The sole heir, she discovers that her responsibilities include dealing with serious charges against the late Francis Hatton’s character. A Scotsman blames him for swindling his family out of their fortune. And the disturbingly handsome ex-soldier Richard Leighton is convinced that her grandfather is responsible for the death of his beautiful, wayward mother who vanished decades ago.

Plus, there is one stipulation in the will that surprises Francesca. What the boisterous children chillingly and cheerfully referred to as “the Murder Stone,” making it the center of their sometimes gruesome plays, must be removed from the estate and taken as far away as possible, while still remaining in Britain.

What power or dark memories are associated with this anomalous piece of rock, not native to the region? This puzzle is just one more to plague Francesca’s already troubled mind.

Charles Todd is also author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge and Nurse Bess Crawford mystery series, both set in the time period of the Great War. Those novels tend to have a brisker pace, but the attention to human and period detail is much the same, and they are very enjoyable reads. You can find this author on his Web site and also on Facebook.