The Cuckoo’s Child
The Cuckoo’s Child is a period murder mystery with an intriguing and complex plot. Readers should not be put off by the dialect in the first few pages. Eccles’ descriptions of Yorkshire in 1909 are vivid and convincing.
After college, Laura Harcourt, 21, agrees to catalogue the library of Ainsley Beaumont, a wealthy Yorkshire man, expecting time to think about her future. The inhabitants of Wainthrope, Beaumont’s manor house, are cordial – for the most part – but the pleasant atmosphere is shattered when Beaumont is found dead.
The complex plot revolves around Laura’s history (unknown to her) plus several cases of hidden identity, young men sewing wild oats, and of course, a cuckoo in the Wainthrope nest. The local detective must follow a convoluted trail in order to catch a killer whose name and motivation may surprise readers.
Although there are gothic elements, The Cuckoo’s Child is a village police procedural, not cozy but not violent either. For those unfamiliar with Eccles’s previous mysteries (Last Nocturne, 2010), her dense prose is a nice surprise. This standalone is a good place to start. Recommended.