So about 10 to 12 years ago there was a book that was very popular in charity shops in the UK that I want to reread again. A summary of what I remember:
– This guy found(?) a load of art that was quite cryptic and had lots of pieces all with a number on (maybe in an old house/ attic)
– All the artwork fit together into one massive piece and this was a key discovery in the book (I think there were thousands of pieces and they all were numbered)
– It involved a children’s home/ orphanage; I think the painter was found to be painting out his childhood trauma
– Some of it was painted in blood (you found this out later)
– A policewoman was involved as the love interest and they slept together after her mum/ dad’s funeral
– I think it jumped between the present day and the past quite a lot with it all tying together in the end; i think the main character was the painter/ murderer’s sibling(?)
– The cover design was a lot like ‘the interpretation of murder’ (not sure if I can link here but the yellow-ish cover on google images)
– It may be quite a shit book as that is what I enjoyed reading at the time
I’m not even sure why this particular picture book continues to stick with me. Was it the thrill of exploring a secret passage that sparked my love of exploration? Was it my first surprise ending? Was it my love of bakeries? I’m really not sure, but I’d love to find a copy. I borrowed this book from the children’s section of the Elmhurst branch of the Queens (NY) Public Library many times from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s. There were either one or two children–boys I think–who were exploring a secret passageway they had found in an old mansion or castle. I think he or they had just moved there but my memory is unclear. One of the illustrations I remember best showed an interior view slice of the whole house, including the secret passageway winding its way through the multi-leveled dwelling, with the two boys visible with their flashlight somewhere on a lower level. The boys follow the passageway a long way underground to a door. The door opens out into a bakery in the town or village. There’s another illustration of a surprised baker at his oven as the small door opens out from mid-wall and the equally surprised boys tumble into his bakery. For some reason I think the baker is French, but again details remain elusive. At the end the baker serves them cream puffs or eclairs. Another post I saw (on another book search site) seemed to be a query about this same book and mentions the boys perhaps finding some old casks of wine (?) that had been missing for some time. I also think the town was celebrating some kind of anniversary and the townspeople hoped to celebrate with the casks of wine. It’s also possible I am confusing two books. If anyone can help, I’d really appreciate it!
What I don’t know:
Title, author or any character names Possibly published 2013-2016
What I remember. It is a lot!!
Protagonist drives into a small town where she either grew up or visited her aunt in the summer. She pauses and looks at a house she was always fascinated by and notices that it looks vacant. She learns that the old man who owned it (I think he was either a shut in or a hermit) died and that the house is indeed vacant. She wants to buy it and transform it into a B&B. She learns that the town owns it now as it was taken for unpaid taxes. She tries to buy it and is told by someone at Town Hall that the house isn’t clear for them to sell, but they won’t tell her why,
The editor of the local newspaper has retired. She used to work for him at the paper. He lives at the top of a hill and now runs a wastewater recycling facility. She thinks it’s an odd occupation for him, but he likes it. She tells him about the house and that she snuck a peek at the record the town has about the house and that she learned it has something to do with the man’s will. The retired editor tells her to find the man’s lawyer. She asks how to do that, and he gives her a name and tells her that he is the only lawyer in town. She learns from the lawyer that the man’s will states that he has left behind something valuable that would pay the property taxes and leave an inheritance for only his favorite child. The will says that only his favorite child will know where to find it.
The MC (main character) uses her news reporter skills to track down the siblings. I think there were 4 or 5. As adults, the do not get along at all, but they do all come to the house to search. Each believes that they are the favorite child and will find valuable item. They search their own childhood rooms; they search each other’s rooms. They move paintings on the walls and portraits on the wall going up the stairs in search of a hidden safe. Eventually they search outside the house, maybe in a garage or a barn. They argue constantly. One of the men is a heavy drinker. He is also very mean.
Meanwhile, the MC is running the place like a B&B for the siblings with an older woman (I think her aunt) helping, but the aunt has a bad leg and often has to rest. There is a group of gypsies or nomads in town. They come each year. One of them, a young woman comes to the door looking for a cleaning job, but the aunt (?) tells the MC not to hire any of them because they are not trustworthy, and she can do all the work herself.
After the outdoor search the siblings (and some of them have brought spouses), agree that there is no hidden treasure. They have farewell drinks in the sitting room with the man who is the jerk pouring drinks. One woman passes out with her head hitting the table. The MC (who may have been hiding behind the sofa) thinks that the woman has been poisoned and calls an ambulance. Then she calls the police. The nasty man and the others all go in for questioning while the other woman is taken to the hospital. Eventually they learn that there was no poison, and that the woman had a medical condition. The family is free to leave, which they do.
The MC walks around the house looking for things that need to be cleaned or set right. The sitting room, where the drinks were served, looks tidy but something isn’t quite right. She finally spots it. The rug under the coffee table is askew. Suddenly everything fits into place. She races out of the house to where the gypsies or nomads are set up. Slightly apart from the group is an old van with a dutch door at the side. The door is open and the young woman who came to the house to offer to clean greets her. The MC had hired her to clean without telling her aunt. It comes out that the young woman knew where the valuable item was hidden and took it. She has given it to the gypsies/nomads (I don’t know why). The young woman is in fact the illegitimate daughter of the man who died, and her mother was the man’s doctor who made house calls. The MC runs to the gypsy/nomads’ tents to try to retrieve it as it is her only hope for being able to buy the house. However, the patriarch has died, and his body has already been removed to the crematorium. The remaining people don’t have the item.
The MC leaves a message for the detective who had investigated the possible poisoning and asks him to meet her at the crematorium ASAP as the ceremony is to start shortly. She changes her clothes and hopes that the clan won’t recognize dressed differently and perhaps with a hat on. The ceremony has just begun when she gets there and is happy to see the detective there. As the coffin starts down the conveyor belt it gets stuck. The coffin is oversized and wide as the deceased was obese. There are sparks and the drapery between the coffin and the ceremony area are lit on fire. The fire is quickly put out, but in the confusion the MC sees that one of the clan has recognized her and is trying to escape. The woman is caught and is found to have the treasure. It had been hidden in the coffin and this member of the family had been allowed to view the coffin alone and took it back.
In the end it comes to light (perhaps from a diary) that the man and his doctor had an affair, and the child was his favorite. Somehow all gets fixed, taxes are paid, and MC can buy the house.
I read a book of literary theory in about 2003, but I believe it was older than that.
The book was about the connection between mystery / detective novels and ancient religious mysteries. As I recall, it had individual chapters on the Eleusinian mysteries, the Cybele and Attis myth, and other mythologies — focused on ancient religions prioritized by Western perspectives.
The book is not The Sleuth and the Goddess: Hestia, Artemis, Athena, and Aphrodite in Women’s Detective Fiction, but it would be that kind of thing.
I think it also contained some more common ideas about mysteries, such as that they exist to resolve anxiety about societal instability.
I was born 1968. Sometime around 1978 I read a story about some kids who set out on adventures on their “ponies” and they would stop and camp in the woods and eat “tinned“ food. I believe it had a very UK British feel. They would talk about riding on the “moors” and through forests.
It is possible they were trying to solve a mystery, or just narrating their experiences along the way as they traveled to an ultimate destination- like maybe a beach or shore as on a summer adventure.
I will stop here because I do not want to confuse this with another story in my head.
I think this book might have been a hard cover, about an inch thick, with black paper on the cover inside the dust jacket, and MIGHT have had gold lettering embossed “ONYX” on the cover. MIGHT CONTAIN “nebula” That description might also pertain to a different book but, that is why I am here. They seemed to make a big deal about calling the horses ponies and they all seemed very independent to be traveling without adults. Approx character age 10-15?
I read the story when I was about 10 years old, around 1978, so there’s no telling how much older the story actually is?
I’d really like to get another copy of the story of those children traveling with and riding their ponies, camping or resting while eating food from tins and parcels, and traveling across the moors and forests to get to…?
My brother and I remember a book from our childhood (the 90’s) which was picture-book sized but felt more like a preteen/YA type novel. It was an adventure / mystery story, and we both only remember images from the book. We are hoping that you can help us out.
We remember:- a picture of people on a rope bridge being attacked by arrows (? we think it was arrows?)- a picture of a girl sticking her arm in a fire while onlookers watch (it was some sort of test)- picture of an idol with green skin and a horn through its nose- picture of two people being ties to a rock with evil looking horsemen appearing from a sandy background- picture of a seaplane landing on water- [potentially someone (resembling an Aztec or Mayan leader?) taking the heart of another person– we are not sure if this is from the same book, so this is the only image we cannot commit to]
I’m looking for a Young Adult Mystery possibly from TAB books, mid-1970’s. Teenage girl walks by spooky house everyday on way to school. One day goes in and she has a different identity in a different time. But she knows who she ‘really’ is and tries to get back.
This book is set on some sort of island/plantation. Written in 80s or 90s. Young woman goes there and discovers a mystery which in the end turns out to be an underground crack or meth manufacturing ring operating in the area. At one point she sees her cat playing with a crack rock but she believes it is a bath salt at the time.
This is a mystery I read in the past several years, set in London, about a tall man who worked in the City, left for work, seen by a tradesman in the block by his house, never reached the end of the block. Years later, the ?main character, a younger man or maybe a detective, found him in a circus in Europe. The younger man may have been a relative. It turned out the tall man was very athletic and had bounded over a high brick wall around an estate in his block to live with a woman who collected snakes. They left for France and owned the circus, I think. I thought it might have been a Sayers or Allingham mystery, but the descriptions of each of their books doesn’t sound like it could have been.
I am not sure where to start. First of all, I think it was one of those books where a little girl is sent to a relative for the summer. This book would be from the 1980’s at the earliest. Not sure on that. But during the time she is wherever she is – and it IS in the country – she finds out about a doll that’s been lost for a long time. It’s a china doll and I am pretty sure there’s a silver or pewter tea set. Again, not positive, but I think the doll was buried to protect her from something real or imaginary. Somewhere in the story there was a bunny salad bowl with a hole in one of the bunny legs. A map or directions of some kind were wadded up in that hole. I am nearly sure it was a Scholastic book.
I think it was something about the British coming and the little girl was worried about her doll. Then years later this little girl comes along and hears the story and tries to find the doll. It could be as much difference as 80+ years later. The mystery was solved a great many years after the doll was buried. Her cloth body was gone, it was just her china parts. And the bowl with the bunnies decorating it was important to the mystery. It might have been a bunny platter or big plate instead of bowl, but there was a hole in a rabbit’s leg and the map was wadded up in it.
There is no magic or otherworldly parts to this book. I THINK the little girl learns about the doll through either an old letter or a diary she reads. I THINK the doll doesn’t get found for a long time because the girl that buried her years ago moved. I really wish I could remember more. Its a chapter book and was probably for tweens, so we are looking for a paperback. Although it could have come in a hardback. But its not a picture book.