In The Return of Captain John Emmett author Elizabeth Speller introduces former infantry soldier Laurence Bartram. Like most of the men returning from the trenches and battlefields of Europe, Laurence has his own memories and past to deal with, including the death of his wife and unborn child while he was in service. Mostly he has withdrawn from emotional contact with others, more or less researching a book on church architecture. In 1920 the sister of an old school chum comes to him for help. Her brother survived the war but he was so damaged that he was in care at a remote veteran’s hospital until his recent death, purported to be suicide. Mary Emmett wants to know what really happened, and slowly and reluctantly Lawrence with the aid of his friend Charles begins to dig into John’s past…and face his own.
In the second book of the series, The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton, Laurence becomes involved investigating a complicated mystery that spans more then a decade. In 1911 five-year-old Kitty Easton disappeared from her bedroom and was never found. When the war erupted most of the men of Easton Deadall joined as a group, led by Kitty’s father Digby Easton, and most never returned. Now lady of the manor, Lydia Easton, has proposed a memorial to commemorate the village and manor loss, including the construction of a new maze and a new window in the church. Laurence's friend William is working on the church renovation and asks Laurence to help him out. Laurence finds this especially appealing as it is a church unknown to him and not in any of his books. When a maid disappears from the manor and a woman’s body is discovered in the church, Kitty’s earlier disappearance returns to the fore and Laurence is drawn into both old and new mysteries.
I really enjoyed the first book and was happy to learn about the second, which did not disappoint. If you are interested in this time period and like mysteries, Elizabeth Speller is an author to watch for.