Shadows and Lies

Written by Marjorie Eccles
Review by Audrey Braver

This mystery begins in 1909 when a woman called Hannah Smith is badly injured in a London omnibus accident and suffers a loss of memory extending back several years. As an exercise to regain her memory, she writes her autobiography beginning as far back as she can remember. As she moves forward with the record of her life, there is a chance she will remember everything. Six months later, the body of an unknown woman is discovered on the estate of Sir Henry Chetwynd in Shropshire.

The story seesaws between 1909 and flashbacks to 1894 when a young Hannah leaves her Yorkshire home to visit a friend in Africa. While there Hannah meets and marries an army officer, Hugh Osborne, who lives in Mafeking. During the Boer War, while Mafeking is under siege and her neglectful husband is with the army, Hannah begins an affair with a war correspondent, Harry Chetwynd, that sets in motion events leading up to the murder in Shropshire.

Ms. Eccles, best known for her mystery series featuring Gil Mayo, a village police detective, is a master of the convoluted plot. Her descriptions are so realistic one can almost taste the dust and smell the gunpowder.