"From the 1937 Guernica bombing in Spain, to contemporary Tooting, this history-rich, family-rooted mystery unveils connections between a missing child and a modern-day emergency dispatcher."
Highly readable and laced with intrigue, Iris Costello’s The Secrets of Rochester Place debut weaves a family-focussed mystery around the secrets held by a Georgian house. With the narrative switching between the thirties and the present-day, the story lays bare many forms of love and the impact of politics on personal circumstances, while also revealing anti-refugee bigotry and compassion of both eras.
In 1937 a young orphan, Teresa, is evacuated to London as a result of the Guernica bombing. During the journey she learns about Mari, a Basque goddess who can be summoned to one’s aid in times of peril. In England, Teresa meets a real-life Mari in the form of Mary, an Irish volunteer with the Sisters of the Congregation of St Cecelia who are caring for her. To Teresa, “magical” Mary seemed to have “jumped straight out of a storybook or a movie screen”, and she and her husband take Teresa into their beautiful Rochester Place home, where Teresa has run of the library and befriends their Italian neighbours.
Meanwhile, in the present-day narrative, emergency dispatcher Corinne receives a call on her personal phone from a woman imploring her to save a child in Rochester Place, a building that no longer exists. While Corinne is no stranger to prank calls, why did they call her mobile? Who is Mary, and where is the child?
With the overarching mystery playing out in both timelines, fans of twisty mysteries will be as desperate as Corinne to discover who Mary was, and why she made contact. The Secrets of Rochester Place is accessible, clearly plotted, and packed with fascinating historic insights.