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The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery Hardcover – 1 Nov 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1st Edition edition (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670917559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670917556
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Gripping. Reads like the best kind of mystery story. It is a tale of mistresses and heirlooms, cowardice and connivance (Sunday Times)

'Astonishing, jaw-dropping, superb. Horrifying, extraordinary (Sunday Telegraph)

Extraordinary, edge-of-the-seat, enthralling. All the ingredients of a lurid horror. The plot is thick with destroyed documents, decadent aristocracy, betrayed honour and curses (Metro)

Compelling. A remarkable piece of research which throws a bright shaft of light on powerful people, hypocrisy and the first world war (Jeremy Paxman Guardian, Books of the Year)

Wonderful . . . has everything: family intrigue and hatred, love and war, witches' curses, eccentricity, snobbery and a series of shocking secrets. No reader can finish it unmoved (Sunday Express)

Teems with hypocrisy, deceit, parental manipulation and bullying. Bailey artfully shows how guilt, grief, pride and shame levied a heavy toll (Literary Review)

An extraordinary detective operation (John Julius Norwich)

Excellent, beautifully crafted, fascinating (Red)

Excellent. A fine, suspenseful, atmospheric tale, a less melodramatic and more nuanced Downton Abbey (Daily Express)

Bailey's fascinating book takes us to the heart of a family tragedy ... this is a horrifying story of love, despair, intrigue, snobbery and upper class eccentricity which reads like fiction but is amazingly - and shockingly - real (Lancashire Evening Post)

The mysterious death of a Duke and a castle full of treacherous goings-on make The Secret Rooms a gripping read for fans of Downton Abbey. As thrilling as any fiction, Catherine Bailey uncovers the darkest depths of a family with plenty of skeletons in its closet (Good Housekeeping)

About the Author

Catherine Bailey is the author of Black Diamonds. She read history at Oxford University and is a successful, award-winning television producer and director, making a range of critically acclaimed documentary films inspired by her interest in twentieth century history. She lives in West London.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. T. Bowes on 28 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
One cannot deny that this is a major work in terms of research. I shudder to think how many untold hours the author must have spent in digging through records and old letters. However, it seems to me that she is guilty of several things. One is the wildly changing styles adopted throughout the book; sometimes the author addresses us directly in the first person, then swerves into a kind of over-florid "faction" style as she narrates in the third person. This is irritating. The second is that there is an awful lot of padding. When writing a book of this kind, it is often not what you put in but what you leave out that is most important. Bailey leaves absolutely nothing out - nothing. The story gets bogged down in lots of unnecessary detail which is not needed to advance the story and which could have been excised; all this achieves is a lack of clarity and awfully dull patches where there is simply much more information than the reader needs. The premise of the book is also wildly over-optimistic; the "mystery" is so hyped that the reader is deceived into thinking that the solution is murder or the theft of the Crown Jewels at the very least. And it turns out to be nothing remarkably earth shattering. Certainly nothing to warrant calling it a "true gothic mystery". The "secret" rooms are not even secret! Several of the minor "mysteries" are never resolved - we never find out the reason for the break-in to the castle committed by a woman disguised as a man, and we never find out the true reason for Haddon's death. Neither, strangely, are any reactions of the current Duke of Rutland's family explored when the "secret" comes out.Read more ›
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. K. Burton VINE VOICE on 18 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Catherine Bailey, intent on writing a book about villages affected World War I, visited Belvoir Castle to investigate the extensive archives kept by the ninth duke, John Manners. To her dismay, she found that John's journal abruptly ended in June 1914, just when his unit was about to enter the fighting. When she read his correspondence, she found the same gap, and on further investigation, found three complete gaps in otherwise comprehensive archives. She was so curious that she kept looking and the result was this book, a mystery unwinding into a fascinating picture of a still-privileged aristocracy hovering on the brink of change.

This is a book that actually took me by surprise. I'd read the first few pages a while back and didn't feel compelled to continue. I have to be in a certain kind of a mood for a mystery, and I never felt that the time was right. When I finally did persevere, though, I found an absolute gem of a book. There are actually 3 mysteries, which are the gaps in John's life, and Bailey does an excellent job of keeping the reader wondering about what's happened while slowly revealing a picture of an aristocratic family which simply no longer exists.

The book is structured with chapters that are fairly short. A number of them end in cliffhangers, so that as a reader I was compelled to go on and read more to see what the author would find next; I actually read most of the book on a train and it was the perfect distraction to make a long journey seem much shorter. More than waiting to find out the mysteries, though, I was fascinated by the world which Bailey revealed. John's life, and that of his parents and siblings, is still full of aristocratic excess, but crisis and change is very clearly on the horizon.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Petra "I love to read" TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey for me was an excellent read with wonderful descriptive writing which answered many questions to a mystery which had mystified a lot of people through the years. That mystery was what really happened to the 9th Duke of Rutland in 1940? One reason for me loving this book was that the author really did her research and give her readers a brilliant book which was so full of conspiracy and constant cheating throughout which did bring many answers to those who wanted to know more about this Duke who lived a life of luxury so why was his death so mysterious and why in such a dark room so close to the servant's own quarters? Should he not have had everything at his back and call and everything he desired so close to passing from this world.
Why I loved the book so much mainly was I do love a good mystery especially about the rich and famous and how they go at hiding their many secrets which was the main reason I did choose this book at the beginning. I was therefore not disappointed as I read each page as the author took her reader deep into the lives of those who lived in the very famous Belvoir Castle and what secrets did those famous walls hide behind them. Believe me as you read this brilliant book you will be brought into a life where many readers could only dream of the riches but as many said those who live the high life have so much more to lose therefore they have so much more to hide for fear of losing that life they loved so much.
If you love a book which will take you on a dark and mysterious journey and you like a read which will surprise you as you continue reading the book those surprises will only seem to get bigger.
I highly recommend Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey as a book which will keep you entertained throughout.
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