Rose McQuinn, daughter of Inspector Faro and heroine of four other novels, has just received two pieces of bad news. One is that her fiancé Jack Macmerry has decided that he doesn’t want to marry her, and the other is that her beloved deerhound Thane actually belongs to somebody else. Her true owner lives in Northumberland, a wealthy landowner called Hubert Staines. His daughter is dying of consumption and wants her pet back. But when Rose delivers the dog, she soon finds that nothing is quite what it seems.
A gothic novel! This shows that the genre is alive and well in the Noughties, and Ms Knight can deliver up a real page-turner. I am not commonly fond of a woo-woo element creeping into whodunits and at times a possibly spectral dog that does good deeds is a bit much to swallow. It does fit in with the Victorian atmosphere and adds an element that I am sure 19th-century readers would have loved even if it does make the series cloying at times. Rose makes for a likeable and sensible protagonist, narrating the story in a manner that seems suitable for the period. This is also a novel with a strong sense of place like all this author’s books, and couple with an intriguing plot and a good sense of pace, makes for an entertaining read, soppy dog notwithstanding.