A Shroud For Rowena (1947) by Virginia Rath

Rowena Talcott walked out of her home in San Francisco and promptly disappeared without trace.

Six years later, she seems to have reappeared, in spirit at least. A shadowy figure is seen in a hallway of the family home, the scent of jasmine has returned to her room and her favourite song is heard in the wind… and then one man who might have some insight into Rowena’s whereabouts is murdered.

Chris Talcott, Rowena’s brother, recruits Michael and Valerie Dundas, amateur sleuths and full-time couturiers, but with Rowena’s trail being six years’ old, can the truth ever be brought to light? At least before more murders take place…

It’s not a good sign that I forgot to review this book. It was our book-club title for last month, and I utterly forgot about it. It seemed to have a lot of potential with the set-up, but unfortunately…

… OK, I need to try and remember what my problems were with this one. Well, let’s start with the font.

Yes, the font. I was reading the Coachwhip reprint of this one, and the font is deeply annoying. Almost large print and a strange slightly curly font, it was very distracting. That’s far from ideal when you’re trying to concentrate on the plot.

And the plot? At the heart of it, there is a clever central idea here, with a well-hidden murderer, but unfortunately the stuff hiding it is less interesting. There is an awful lot of telling and not showing, with a fair amount of confession coming from two very convenient letters from guilty parties. Add in the fact that one aspect of the plot, revealed in one of the letters, comes out of nowhere.

So all in all, it’s safe to say that I didn’t particularly enjoy this one…

For alternative takes on the book, do take a look at:

Cross Examining Crime

Ah Sweet Mystery

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