on 18 February 2007
Burley is best known for his Wycliffe series, but this book is a standalone psychological mystery, one of his few non-series books. Sixteen years ago Sir Henry Care's first wife died in a fall from the folly tower on the family estate. In the meantime the estate, and the family, have slowly decayed. Sir Henry's daughter by his first wife is convinced that she and her twin brother are resented and unwanted by the rest of the family, and resents them in turn. She's manipulative and delights in stirring up trouble within the family, but she has also long taken an interest in the occult. She uses meditation techniques to recall memories of the day her mother died, leading to an accusation of murder against her stepmother. When she seeks to raise a demon to answer her questions about that day, she too falls from the tower. The drugs she used as part of the ritual cause hallucinations. Is it accident, suicide... or murder?
The characters and their relationships are well drawn and intriguing, but I found that the end of the book fell flat. The solution to the puzzle is offered, but there isn't enough in the book to support it as the right and natural solution. It feels more as if having set up a number of candidates, the author picked one at random. The book's worth reading, but I think not really worth paying more than reading copy price for unless you're a completist.