Katherine Stansfield’s Cornish Mysteries series moves to the unforgiving North Cornwall coast where Shilly and Anna are to investigate whether The Mermaid’s Call lured a man to his death.
Cornwall, 1845. Shilly has always felt a connection to happenings that are not of this world, a talent that has proved invaluable when investigating dark deeds with master of disguise, Anna Drake. The women opened a detective agency with help from their newest member and investor, Mathilda, but six long months have passed without a single case to solve and tensions are growing.
It is almost a relief when a man is found dead along the Morwenstow coast and the agency is sought out to investigate. There are suspicions that wreckers plague the coast, luring ships to their ruin with false lights – though nothing has ever been proved. Yet with the local talk of sirens calling victims to the sea to meet their end, could something other-worldly be responsible for the man’s death?
A slightly more compact hardback for this third book in the Cornish Mysteries series but the cover is every bit as eye-catching and beautiful as those of its predecessors: Falling Creatures and The Magpie Tree.
When the book opens, we find Shilly and Anna on the coast in Boscastle, renting rooms above a butcher’s shop. They’re joined by Mathilda, who also appeared in The Magpie Tree, as they wait for a new case. It comes to their rooms in the shape of a drowned man:
He was soaked. Not just his clothes but his skin, too… the water seemed to pour from him… His broad face was coarse with stubble. This made him seem grey… He surely had come to us from the bottom of the sea.
Reading this whole scene where the captain describes the dream that brought him so abruptly home from sea, and which ends with Shilly describing someone: “As if she was the sea herself” was so powerful that I became fully immersed in the story and barely surfaced again until I’d finished The Mermaid’s Call.
Shilly and Anna’s investigations take them further up the coast from Boscastle to Bude and Morwenstow and Katherine Stansfield uses her poetic powers to fully realise this part of Cornwall within the pages of The Mermaid’s Call. I was dragged through the cloying mud in the lanes and fields, overwhelmed by the creeping stench in the churchyard, felt the pull of the clamouring sea beyond the cliffs and sensed myself being buffeted across the windswept fields towards them. Read more