Kate Rokesmith’s decision to go to the river changed the lives of many. Her murder shocked the nation. Her husband never pressed charges and moved abroad under a cloud of suspicion. Her son, just four years old, grew up in a loveless boarding school. And Detective Inspector Darnell, vowing to leave no stone unturned in the search for her killer, began to lose his only daughter. The young Stella Darnell grew to resent the dead Kate Rokesmith for capturing her father’s attention in a way she never could.
Thirty years later, Stella is dutifully sorting through her father’s attic after his sudden death. The Rokesmith case papers are in a corner gathering dust: the case was never solved. Stella knows she should destroy them. Instead, she opens the box, and starts to read
As it says in the blurb this is the story of Stella taking on an unsolved murder mystery when her policeman father dies. The murder happened 30 years previously when Kate Rokesmith was killed by the river Thames in front of her 4 year old son, Johnathon Rokesmith, one summers day. DI Darnell was unable to solve the case and it has come to represent to Stella her father’s absence in her life due to his devotion to his job.
When Terry (DI Darnell) dies suddenly in a small seaside town Stella is forced to confront some of her feelings about him and their relationship. After finding the boxes with all the papers for the case and some hints that Terry was continuing to try and resolve it Stella can’t let it go. Then when she meets the enigmatic Jack Harmon and one of her clients (Stella runs a cleaning agency) dies in strange circumstances all sorts of ‘co-incidences’ come together to spur on Stella’s curiosity and involvement in the case.
This story has many twists and turns. It also has flashbacks to the time of the murder and what happened afterwards scattered through the novel. We get the information we need in bits and pieces to put together a picture of what happened that day and how that has impacted the present day. I really enjoyed this and the levels of suspense that it maintained. I also liked the way that often we have more information than Stella and can sometimes be one step ahead of her in the race to solve the case. Lesley manages to keep you guessing and wondering if your theories about what happened are actually right and to keep questioning the characters and how they are related.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that I did solve the mystery correctly, but I didn’t know if I was right until the end, consequently it was a book I found really difficult to put down, I definitely wanted to know what happened! Plus as the tale reached it’s climax I was gripped waiting to see if there would be another murder…
This is a page turner with a heart though as through the whole story there is Stella struggling to come to terms with losing a Dad she loved but wasn’t close to. The whole theme of loving and losing your parents as experienced by both Stella and Jonathon gives the novel a bigger emotional punch.
I definitely recommend this book.
Reviewed by Helen