An Inquiry into Love and Death takes place in the early 1920's in England. The heroine of this novel is Jillian Leigh, a young woman who's attending Oxford and is pretty darn smart. She's one the new wave of women who are entering schools of higher learning, drives a car, and lives away from her parents. Her father is a famous chemist, and her mother travels the world with him as he lectures.
Jillian receives notice at Oxford that her Uncle Toby has died in a fall off a cliff and she is the only relative that can go identify his body and collect his things. He had been staying in a small house on the coast of England in the small village of Rothewell. Her parents can't possibly leave Paris for this, so she reluctantly goes to Rothewell to take care of business.
Toby was a ghost hunter, and he was in Rothewell to tackle the famous local ghost, Walking John. He had been a smuggler 200 years before, and walked the local woods and kept people away from Blood Moon Bay. Toby had been found at the bottom of the cliffs that run along the coast. It appears he fell. Appears, I said.
Jillian quickly realizes that not only does Walking John exist--and creeps around the little cottage at night--but that something else is in the cottage, leaving clues for her. Enter dashing Scotland Yard investigator Drew Merriken--an World War I pilot with secrets of his own. He's there to investigate Toby's death. But there's way more to this story, and Jillian is slowly realizing not only are the dead haunting her, but someone else wants her dead, too. Can she figure it all out before it's too late?
I so enjoyed this book. I'm always happy when I come upon a good ghost story. This author does an excellent job of creeping you out--the tension, the chills, the feeling of something is there--right behind you keeps you turning the pages. You want to shout at Jillian--Turn around! Also, Simone St. James brings the after effects of World War I into the story, reminding us that those who survived and came home often did so with emotional wounds that could not be healed.
Her first book, The Haunting of Maddy Clare is just as good, with the right amount of creepy. Her heroines are young women struggling to make it on their own in a rapidly changing world that still thinks women should be married and having children. You can read either book in any order as the characters are not connected and the stories are stand alone.
Rating: 7/10; clever storyline that unfolds slowly; tension builds very well, and a great ghost story!
Available in paperback or as an e-book.