Death Comes to Dartmoor: A Merriweather and Royston Mystery

Written by Vivian Conroy
Review by Valerie Adolph

Miss Merula Merriweather and her friend and fellow zoologist Lord Raven Royston travel to the south west of England to visit Raven’s friend, who owns a collection of rare zoological specimens. Their host Charles Oaks, however, seems not only unprepared for their visit but distracted and irrational to the point that his neighbor tries to get him committed to an asylum.

Merula and Raven explore Oaks’ bat-infested house, discovering a large, legendary sea creature called a kraken. It is dead, with one of its many limbs hacked off. This does not stop villagers believing that it killed a local girl. Blaming Oaks for this, an unruly mob attacks his house, threatening to burn it to the ground.

As Merula and Raven, together with their resourceful servants Bowsprit and Lamb, investigate the girl’s murder, Merula is faced by a man who may have information about her mother. Desperate to find out more about parents she never knew, Merula confronts the man beside a lonely tor but finds herself unable to trust his words.

Setting her novel on lonely Dartmoor, a region of mists, crags, and bogs, rife with myth about legendary creatures, the author utilises all of these plus the irrational Oaks and his house full of uniquely fearsome specimens to establish a vaguely terrifying atmosphere. The unusual feature of this novel is the relationship between the two attractive young people who travel and live together, caring for each other but not indulging in even one kiss. The relationship does, however, deepen slightly as the novel progresses.