My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James is a good read, especially around Halloween. It's a ghost story with a little romance rolled in. Jillian Leigh is an Oxford student in 1920's England when women were just beginning to attend the school. She has to leave her studies to identify the body of her Uncle Toby. Toby was a ghost hunter. He is one of the most interesting characters in the book, especially considering he only appears through memories and notes left behind.
Jillian's parents are busy with their own lives, so it falls to her to go to Rothwell, a town in Northamptonshire, England where her uncle had been searching for ghosts. One of those ghosts was Walking John, a famous local spirit haunting the woods near Blood Moon Bay. While in Rothwell, Uncle Toby fell off a cliff, which is how he died.
Jillian stays at the house her uncle had been renting because she needs to collect his belongings and, also, because the rent has been paid through the end of the month. But there's a reason a ghost hunter would choose to live in Barrow House and Jillian soon discovers the reason.
I loved the setting of An Inquiry Into Love and Death. The story takes place in post World War I, rural England. All of the characters have been affected in some way by the horrible events they've lived through. Some have come out stronger, some damaged, but all are changed. I also enjoyed the romance between Jillian and Drew Merriken, a Scotland Yard inspector in the area investigating Uncle Toby's death. The were both strong characters with their own interests and responsibilities. The one aspect of the plot I did not like was the relationship between Jillian and her parents. Their actions didn't seem believable, especially late in the book when some secrets began to be revealed.
Overall, this is a good ghost story with lots of tension and strong characters.
Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul
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