The Murder Stone

Written by Charles Todd
Review by Trudi E. Jacobson

This novel, which is not a part of Todd’s successful Ian Rutledge series, is set during WWI. Francesca Hatton has returned from doing war work in London to her Devon home when her grandfather is on his deathbed. Losing her grandfather, who had raised her, means she is alone in the world. The five cousins she was brought up with have all died in action. Several people unknown to Francesca turn up for her grandfather’s funeral, all disturbing in their own right. Francesca soon realizes she knew little about her grandfather. The claims and accusations made by each of these mysterious visitors lead Francesca to seek out the truth about her grandfather and her family, disturbing as it might be.

The incredible toll taken by the war is extremely evident in The Murder Stone. We get glimpses of each of Francesca’s cousins, and all are people we would like to have gotten to know better. In addition, other key characters in the novel have been bruised by the war, both physically and mentally. The atmosphere of the novel is dark, almost gothic at times. Todd knows his period well and conveys it very effectively to the reader. I found this to be a very engaging and moving book.