Title: Murder on the Cliffs
Author: Joanna Challis
Release Date: November 24, 2009
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Murder on the Cliffs stars a young Daphne du Maurier, before her days as a famous author. She is vacationing in Cornwall, visiting a friend of her mother, when she stumbles upon a body on a beach. Daphne’s curiosity is piqued, even more so when she learns about the family the body is connected with, the Hartley family. As Daphne becomes close to Lianne Hartley, she tries to uncover the truth behind the death.
Murder on the Cliffs is a wonderful gothic mystery. Challis writes this book as a prelude to du Maurier’s hit novel Rebecca – the events in this book are supposed to be an inspiration for that one. Challis does an excellent job in setting the scene and evoking the setting of Rebecca. The atmosphere of Murder on the Cliffs is deliciously creepy and the historical details are well-written.
Daphne is a fresh, new heroine that readers will really root for. She is portrayed as intelligent, resourceful, and very insightful, but never so much that it’s unbelievable for a woman of her time. But she’s also just a girl in this book, vulnerable to emotion and flights of fancy. She’s very well written and realistically balanced, making her a lot of fun to read about.
The mystery in Murder on the Cliffs is incredibly well done. A mystery that is well-crafted enough for Daphne du Maurier to star in would be very difficult to piece together, yet Joanna Challis does so expertly. She really knows how to tantalize the reader with disparate pieces of information, yet she never makes the answer obvious or easy to figure out. As a result, Daphne looks that much more intelligent for being able to put everything together.
Murder on the Cliffs was an amazing amount of fun to read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The main character is charming, the mystery is intriguing, and the setting is haunting and wonderfully creepy. This would be a wonderful book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night, and is a must-read for anyone who loves Daphne du Maurier or Rebecca.