Broughton Underhill, England. The death of young Marianne Wentworth, found in the lake on the Oaklands Park estate, haunts this novel. The narrative flashes back and forth between 1919 and the drowning in August 1914. The story dips in and out of the war years, following the lives of Francis Wentworth and his motherless children – Nella, Amy, and William – as they grieve, love, and serve their country. Enter former police sergeant Herbert Reardon returning home after the war. Aware of the original investigation, Reardon never feels satisfied that Marianne’s death was a simple suicide. So he begins to wonder when a maid dies in the lake in the same place as Marianne. He retraces the flirtations between Marianne and four young men, including a gypsy and an Austrian boy with suspicious alliances at the outbreak of war. His discovery of Marianne’s notebook provides the possible key to both drownings and the discovery of a long-concealed affair.
Marjorie Eccles is an established mystery novelist. Her work has been serialized on British television, and her novels are acclaimed. This is a well-crafted, detailed novel which draws the reader in slowly. Eccles presents Broken Music – the world before and after the Great War, and its impact on an English country town, all the while focusing on the drowning of Marianne and the questions that ensued. Her traditional style provides rich narration and literary imagery. Eccles embeds clues along the way which delightfully culminate in the epilogue as the reader gasps and says, “Ah, now I see.”