Murder on the Cliffs
In 1921, aspiring novelist Daphne du Maurier undertakes a holiday in Cornwall to explore ancient records in an abbey. What she finds is a body on the beach. The dead woman, though only a former house servant, was on the verge of marrying the area’s wealthy landowner, David Hartley. The apparent drowning turns out to be murder, and Daphne is drawn into a web of deceit with the secretive Hartleys and their mysterious Elizabethan mansion. Daphne is determined to find the killer, use these events for a future novel, and resist her attraction to the handsome David—one of the prime suspects.
The mystery is handled well, and Daphne is an interesting character, based on the real novelist, of course. The story structure is choppy with abrupt shifts in time and place, and the dialog is melodramatic in places. The spare style with little nuance makes it seem written for young adults. But it’s a fast, fun read. This debut is the beginning of a series.