The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse

A body is found in a river, not far from where Connie and her father Gifford live. Something is familiar about the dead woman. The marks on her neck indicate that it wasn’t an accident. Connie is anxious: has her father had something to do with the woman’s death? He is missing, possibly drunk, possibly on the run.

Connie’s grasp on reality is shaky. She has a big gap in her memory concerning a woman in her and her father’s life, a woman called Cassie. Henry is equally concerned. His father is behaving strangely. Henry has followed him to Fishbourne.

This is where Connie’s and Henry’s paths cross. The two of them join forces to solve this mystery, but will it mean absolving their respective fathers or saving them from danger?

The book is atmospheric and dark, but not quite chilling. The tension builds up slowly but never quite becomes taut beyond reader’s endurance. The sense of place is palpable, but the place doesn’t seem to play an active role in this drama.

Although the plot is drawn with mastery, something is missing. Perhaps it is the affinity with the characters that I found wanting. Perhaps I didn’t care that very much what happened to them. The tale seemed like a post mortem rather than a story with a beating heart. Perhaps taxidermy had something to do with it.

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