At the same time, there was a certain point toward the end where I started to feel like there was a bit too much randomness about this story. From the reviews here, it seems that many feel those two series are superior to this book.
THE MURDER STONE (Gothic Suspense)- Ex Charles Todd Standalone Bantam, 2003 Hardcover Their grandfather, Francis Hatton, raised Francesca Hatton and her four male cousins, all orphaned at an early age.
Most of the inserts by the cousins were irrelevant; the shooter episodes didn't really further the plot and the entire shooter subplot could have been eliminated without any damage to the whole. The last one third of the novel went on and on, and the book's ending stretched credulity to the limit.
Francesca is the last Hatton - her grandfather had raised her and her five male cousins after the respective deaths of their parents, but all five cousins were killed in the war. Francesca is confronted with two pieces of property that she didn't know existed; a disposition requiring her to remove the murder stone, a large rock she and her cousins used to play on; and the confrontation from a stranger named Richard Leighton that Francis Hatton killed his mother many years ago. The book was written in third person, but frequently would be inside Francesca's tortured head. And of course, there are the loyal old servants who go around muttering things like "it ain't right" whenever some evil person comes to besmirch Francis Hatton's good name. The family mysteries - perhaps I wasn't paying close attention, but was it resolved whether Francesca and her cousins were really her grandfather's grandchildren? Was Francis Francesca's father (so alliterative)? So Francesca frets about what to do and then, when Victoria comes again to issue her final warning, SHOOTS AND KILLS HER. I guess I'm glad Victoria died because how else were Richard and Francesca going to live happily ever after, but she MURDERS her future mother-in-law / possibly own mother in cold blood ON HER WEDDING DAY and was like, oh hehoha, time to get to the church.
I was surprised, but pleased, to find it a very well done stand alone, more a gothic than a mystery, set in Todds era of expertise, WWI. Young Francesca Hatton returns to her grandfathers estate for his funeral. For me, the least satisfying part of this well plotted and fast paced novel was the relationship between Francesca and Richard Leighton, the stranger who accuses Francescas beloved, newly buried grandfather of having murdered Leightons mother many years ago.
We are soon introduced to the main character of the book: The Murder Stone. When I find myself fighting to keep reading a book, and Im only twenty pages into its nearly 400, I know how its going to turn out. I know Ill get lots of flak about these comments by Todd fans, but make it constructive.
After he dies a strange and angry (although good looking, of course) man shows up accusing her grandfather of murder. Each angry man has his own story and there are some women that may or may not be who or what they seem.
This is very different from the other Charles Todd books that I have read.