Murder on the Cliffs (Daphne du Maurier Mystery Series #1)

Murder on the Cliffs (Daphne du Maurier Mystery Series #1)

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by Joanna Challis
     
 

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The storm led me to Padthaway.

I could never resist the allure of dark swirling clouds, windswept leaves sweeping down cobbled lanes or a view of the sea stirring up its defiant nature. The sea possessed a power all of its own and this part of Cornwall, an isolated stretch of rocky cliff tops and unexplored beaches both enchanted and terrified me.

It is

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Overview

The storm led me to Padthaway.

I could never resist the allure of dark swirling clouds, windswept leaves sweeping down cobbled lanes or a view of the sea stirring up its defiant nature. The sea possessed a power all of its own and this part of Cornwall, an isolated stretch of rocky cliff tops and unexplored beaches both enchanted and terrified me.

It is not a lie to say I felt drawn out that day, led to a certain destiny...

So begins this new mystery series featuring young Daphne du Maurier, headstrong, adventurous, and standing at the cusp of greatness.

Walking on the cliffs in Cornwall, she stumbles upon the drowned body of a beautiful woman, dressed only in a nightgown, her hair strewn along the rocks, her eyes gazing up to the heavens. Daphne soon learns that the mysterious woman was engaged to marry Lord Hartley of Padthaway, an Elizabethan mansion full of intriguing secrets.

As the daughter of the famous Sir Gerald du Maurier, Daphne is welcomed into the Hartley home, but when the drowning turns out to be murder, Daphne determines to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Padthaway—in part to find fresh inspiration for her writing, and in part because she cannot resist the allure of grand houses and long buried secrets.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Australian author Challis’s U.S. debut, the uneven first in a new series to feature literary icon Daphne du Maurier as sleuth, 21-year-old Daphne, who’s visiting Cornwall to research local history, encounters a teenage girl, Lianne Hartley, leaning over a beautiful young woman’s body on the beach during a storm. Lianne reluctantly identifies the dead woman as Victoria Bastion, a former kitchen maid who was about to marry Lianne’s brother. Daphne soon meets other members of the aristocratic Hartley family, whose complex relationships and great house, an Elizabethan mansion called Padthaway, fascinate her. When Daphne learns that Victoria died by poison rather than accident, she vows to solve the mystery of her murder. Despite a clunky plot and some labored prose (“Sea spray foamed at the mouth of the restless sea”), Challis (Eye of the Serpent) gives du Maurier fans an appealing vision of the novelist’s early womanhood and the inspiration for her classic Rebecca.(Dec.)
Library Journal
It is 1928, and aspiring writer Daphne du Maurier sets out for Cornwall to do research at a local abbey but finds a drowned woman on the beach and involves herself in a murder investigation that leads to the local aristocracy. As her probe proceeds, Daphne is also engrossed in trying to write a novel. VERDICT In this series debut, Australian author Challis resurrects a writer whose own life was full of secrets to solve a mystery that turns on the complexities of a family hiding its own. Readers who remember du Maurier's classic Rebecca will love the remote Cornwall setting and the many hints that lead to both real and fictional events.
Kirkus Reviews
Seeking inspiration to begin her writing career, young Daphne du Maurier visits Cornwall and finds a dead bride-to-be. Rain. Wind. Rocks. A slight figure barely visible in the gloom. How better to capture the imagination of a nascent writer visiting her mum's old nanny while researching in the musty archives at Rothmarten Abbey? Aha! Daphne spies a body at the base of the cliffs. Standing over the corpse is the slightly mad Lianne Hartley, who identifies it as Victoria Bastion, a former kitchen maid who captured the heart of Lianne's brother David, lord and heir of the Elizabethan manor Padthaway. In a trice Daphne is invited to the great house, complete with dungeons, a sinister tower, a secret garden and Lady Hartley, who loathed the prospect of Victoria as her daughter-in-law. Sir Edward, the local magistrate, declares the death accidental, but Daphne's skepticism is proven right when a medical examination turns up poison. Suspects include odd-child Lianne, the intended groom, Lady Hartley and her lover, the obligatory sinister housekeeper and the mysterious person Victoria secretly went to London to meet. A kiss with the wrong gentleman and a proper disdain for the right one later, Daphne resolves the matter and begins to write of Manderley. Du Maurier becomes the latest luminary to suffer the indignity of being named sleuth by an author in search of a gimmick. Challis (Eye of the Serpent, 2007, etc.) provides ample hints of Rebecca, but no hint of its author's mastery of atmosphere or suspense.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312367145
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
11/24/2009
Series:
Daphne du Maurier Mystery Series, #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
292
Sales rank:
1,492,094
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.58(h) x 1.07(d)

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