The Murder Stone

Title:  The Murder Stone
Author:  Charles Todd
Pages:  377
Year:  2003
Publisher:  Bantam Dell
This story is set in 1916 in the English countryside in a remote valley.  Francesca Hatton has just buried her grandfather after he suffered a stroke and weeks of being bedridden and unable or unwilling to communicate.  She grew up with her grandfather in the role of her father as her own parents were killed when she was just two years old.  She had no other relatives, so her grandfather took her in.  She was raised with her five male cousins who had also lost their parents.  As grown men, each of them had enlisted in the Great War and all of them had been killed.  Now Francesca is the only surviving member of her family and the vultures begin to descend, wanting things from her.  She has no idea what these people want or what they are talking about.  Her grandfather kept her very shielded.
As she asks more questions and gets no definite answers, she begins to think she never really knew her grandfather, the one she grew up adoring.  Richard Leighton shows up accusing her grandfather of killing his mother years ago.  He wants to find out for sure what happened, but makes no bones about it that he holds her grandfather responsible.  Francesca staunchly defends her grandfather and so the two quarrel often.  More information is unearthed, but is it the truth?  Who can Francesca trust?  Who will tell her the truth about her grandfather and about herself?
This story contains many turns of the plot with distractions to keep readers guessing as to the outcome.  I didn’t care for the ending of the story.  There was no real resolution of who was related to whom and if the captured soldier was indeed one of Francesca’s cousins.  I didn’t even like Francesca as she proved too capable at killing, even though she justified or rationalized the reasons to herself.  Although I could empathize with her searching for answers to the questions various people raised and constantly being met with lies or silence.  I have read the Inspector Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series and enjoyed those stories very much, but this one just didn’t connect with me.
My rating is 3 stars.

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