Book Review: The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller

For my next read I decided to leave the medieval world behind for a while and move forward a few hundred years to the end of the First World War - the year 1920 to be exact - and a mystery.

This is an unusual detective story. It opens on a railway station platform, with a silent crowd waiting to pay their respects to the Unknown Warrior, whose coffin is aboard a train bound for burial in London, and a mysterious figure standing alone.

Dealing with his own personal loss and a life that has changed forever, ex-soldier, Laurence Bartram, receives a letter from the sister of a former school friend who is trying to make sense of why her brother, John Emmett, committed suicide after surviving the war.

Puzzled by the relevance of items in John Emmett's possession at the time of his death, Laurence sets off to find the answers and soon becomes embroiled in a mystery that brings back the recent horrors of World War I and its devastating effect on those that lived through it and its aftermath. I won't elaborate on the story further,  as that would spoil it  for those who haven't read it, only to say it is a tragic tale.

My interest was held to the very end of the novel. The image of that mysterious figure at the station was always in my mind. Who was he and  what connection, if any, did this person have to the unfortunate events  in the story? I had many theories, none of which were correct, and to me the essence of a good mystery novel is one that keeps me guessing until the author decides to reveal the solution.

I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading Elizabeth Speller's next entitled "The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton" also featuring Laurence Bartram.

If you want to know more about the aftermath of World War I, Aftermath is a great website to visit. There is a page devoted to the Unknown Warrior.

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