The Return of Captain John Emmett
By Elizabeth Speller
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547737409, 448pp.)
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
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In the wake of the Great War, Laurence Bartram has turned his back on the world. But with a well-timed letter, an old flame draws him back in. John Emmett, Laurence’s friend and fellow veteran, has apparently killed himself while in the care of a remote veterans’ hospital, and his sister Mary needs to know why.
Laurence begins asking difficult questions. What connects a group of war poets, a feud within Emmett’s regiment, and a hidden love affair? Was John’s death really a suicide, or one in a puzzling string of murders? To uncover the truth, Laurence must revisit his own searing experiences on the Western Front.
An exquisite literary mystery, The Return of Captain John Emmett blends psychological depth with lively storytelling from the golden age of British crime fiction.
The Return of Captain John Emmett is her first novel.
"Laurence Bartram is a young widower grappling not only with the loss of his young wife and infant son but also with a return to normalcy after his service in World War I when he receives a letter from Mary Emmett, the sister of a boyhood friend, asking him to look into her brother’s supposed suicide. He is as intrigued by Mary herself as he is by her letter, and his investigations uncover a series of crimes and help Laurence confront his own horrendous memories of the war. An absorbing mystery set in postwar London, Speller’s literary debut is brimming with historical details of the period and doesn’t shy away from war’s atrocities. There are many references to British writers and poets that the average American reader may not be familiar with, and the myriad names of officers and soldiers may be confusing. VERDICT World War I history buffs will enjoy this mystery, as will fans of period pieces set in London. Readers who like Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series will enjoy this as well." [Previewed in M.M. Adjarian’s genre spotlight, "Dispatches from the Edge," <LJ 4/15/11.—Ed.] —Julie Pierce, Fort Myers–Lee County P.L., Florida -- Library Journal"Elegant, engrossing read."-- Publishers Weekly "Elegantly written anti-war saga."-- Kirkus