This is one of those murder mysteries that keeps you guessing till the very end. I had my suspicions about everybody in Rothewell, much like the oh so fleetingly handsome Inspector Merriken, but I can't say I predicted any of the events that took place as the pieces of the puzzle were coming together.
In the early 1920s, outside London, in a small town known as Rothewell, a legendary ghost has haunted the people of the town for decades and has been known to cause quite the spook on travelers who decide to reside in Barrow House.
Jillian Leigh thought taking care of her eccentric Uncle's things after his untimely death would be an undoubtedly quick process. When she learned it would be quite the opposite, her ghost-hunting uncle soon became the least of her worries, because the circumstances in which he died came into question as the Scotland Yard Inspector seems to believe it was something more than a simple fall.
Of all things, the plot and the writing were the elements that attracted me most and hooked me from the very beginning. The plot itself was so different from the genre of books I usually read that I was amazed how well it was thoroughly executed. The thrill and suspense was attacking from every page and I was intrigued and mesmerized while scared out of my socks. The legend of Walking John had a history so dynamically crafted, I sympathized with him when I read the circumstances of his death. It was brilliant. Rothewell was teeming with ghosts yet it was described as such a beautifully haunting town that I got chills while I would have liked to see the defiant waves of Blood Moon Bay. The thrill of learning just pieces of what really occurred while Jillian's uncle Toby visited Rothewell added to the overall mystery and drama of what was later to be revealed and discovered.
The writing blew my breath away with the amount of detail the author added about World War I and its affect on England and its Royal Navy soldiers that seemed to occupy every corner of Rothewell. It was due to this solid background that the author was able to seamlessly incorporate so many different portrayals of the war yet combine them all to convey the impact it had on the men of the time.
Jillian was my undoubtedly favorite character because of her, as Drew Merriken calls it, her "infernal intelligence." She makes brilliant leaps with all the information that she collects and its impossible to not to able to see why she decided to attend Oxford, rather than become a married homebody like Mrs. Kates. It's also her reactions that made me admire her. She was able to confront the most challenging and trying of situations and figure out with a rational head what to do next. The insatiable Inspector Andrew Merriken seemed to be one of those "situations" as most love interests tend to be in books these days. His blunt demeanor took some adjusting to but I could understand his reasoning for suspecting everyone of everything. One of my favorite quotes by him has to be when he's explaining to Jillian why he is how he is, as he simply says, "But that is why you are you and I am me." True, it's a bit condescending in a I'm-a-cop-and-you're-a-civilian way, but it just sums up his character in a nutshell.
While I do admit that An Inquiry Into Love and Death is more of an Adult novel with crossover YA appeal, it does not stop me from forcing it upon my high school friends and demanding that they read it and discuss it with me. I'm just that giving.