Title: Honour the Dead
Author: John Anthony Miller
Published on: 1st November 2018/ (11 Jan 2016 according to NetGalley)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Fiction
It’s been three years since the Great War ended. Six survivors of the war – two women and four men are brought together at Lake Como. The result: one murdered. The war might have ended years ago but the effects of war, the screams, the blood and the agony of fellow soldiers still brings nightmares and sleepless nights.
Penelope Jones, a wealthy socialite, hounded by reporters, is brought to Joseph Barnett’s sanatorium in Como, Italy. The sanatorium is set on the banks of Lake Como and is supposed to be one of the best institutions. Alexander Cavendish, Penelope’s husband, and her doctor Joseph Barnett seem to have some connection – they both worked at the front. While Barnett is still haunted by the after-effects of war, Cavendish leads a life surrounded by women and gambling.
Wellington Jones, Penelope’s father, is bogged by the recent depression and his assets in Asia – India, Singapore and Hong Kong are threatened. Alexander is in no better condition either. With mounting gambling debts and no money in his bank account to repay the debts, his life is threatened by the goons.
Rose Barnett, Joseph’s wife, is a well-known author. Her poems about the war are well reciprocated. She and her husband are in hiding – a dark past haunts them. Inspector Falcone lost his son in the war and the grief of losing a son killed his wife.
I will start the review by saying that this is one of the best books that I have read this year. Absolutely thrilling and gripping! A historical mystery set on Lake Como highlighting the psychological effects of war – seems too good to be true! This is the first book by John Anthony Miller that I have read and I am looking forward to reading more of his books. He’s an excellent author and his storytelling skills are mind-blowing! Let’s get to the story now, shall we?
Penelope Jones! She plays the role of a schizophrenic woman. She believes that someone is out to get her, to kill her. After a failed suicide attempt in Monte Carlo six months ago and a couple of failed psychiatric treatments by various renowned psychiatrists, she’s admitted to Barnett’s sanatorium. She isn’t very convinced about her recovery. First, she believes that the nurse tried to kill her. This was followed by two fishermen who looked at her from their boat on the lake – another attempt to kill her. This is followed by a couple more scenarios of ‘attempts to kill Penelope Jones’. Dr Barnett believes that she’s delusional.
Alexander Cavendish, Penelope’s husband, is a gambling addict and a playboy! As the story proceeds and Alexander is threatened by the goons, the readers are given the benefit of doubt – Penelope is rich and Alexander needs money so… do the math! Also, Alexander and Joseph Barnett seem to share a history. Barnett goes into these flashbacks where he sees Alexander in a different role. Though a war hero, Alexander was nothing but a monster on the battleground.
Wellington Jones, Penelope’s father is a devastated father and a husband. After losing his wife to a freak train accident, it was his responsibility to look after his two children – Penelope and Oxford. Oxford’s death just days before the armistice has taken a toll on Wellington’s mental health. He somehow blames himself for not being there for Penelope ( after her mental breakdown, that is).
The murder doesn’t happen until the second half of the book so I will not reveal the identity of the victim. Also, the author has done an excellent job in keeping the identity of the victim a suspense. Like, the body is found on the banks and the police are called. The body is described, followed by a scene in Barnett’s house. Finally, the identity of the victim is revealed.
Honour the Dead is a well-researched book. The plotting is brilliant and tricky. The star of the story is none other than Penelope Jones. As the story was about to end, I did have my doubts about the identity of the killer. The ending of this story is something different from the usual mysteries. As Dr Barnett says in the end, it was all a well-performed play.
If you like historical mysteries and love to read stories that are brimming with suspense, then do not miss to check out Honour the Dead.
I received this book from NetGalley and BooksGoSocial in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.