WWII books are all the rage right now. Rader-Day has come up with a unique and different take on this genre.
I was immediately intrigued when I read this descriptor from Harper Audio: "...a captivating suspense novel about nurses during World War II who come to Agatha Christie’s holiday estate to care for evacuated children, but when a body is discovered nearby, the idyllic setting becomes host to a deadly mystery."
I know what you're thinking - and of course I had to know. Christie did own a home called Greenway. And yes, children from London were evacuated to Greenway. There were two nurses to look after the children - and here's where Rader-Day makes the story her own. (Note that Christie's involvement in this book is very minor)
Bridey made a horrible mistake in her former hospital setting and has been terminated from her nurse trainee program. She is determined to make this posting a success, so she may reapply. But she hasn't shared that information with her employers. The other nurse is Gigi and she seems as lackadaisical as Bridey is devoted. She too seems to be harboring secrets.
They're an odd pairing and Bridey is fascinated by Gigi. As a listener, I had my suspicions about her. Rader-Day slowly ekes out details about each woman's life, weaving a wide net that slowly grows smaller. When a body washes up on the shore near the house, it's deemed a murder, not a war casualty. And suspicions grow...
Rader-Day tells the story from not just Bridey and Gigi, but also from others living in the house - the nurses' employers, the Arbothnots, the butler and his wife and even one of the children. There are other village residents that make appearances and there was more than one I was suspicious of as well. The atmosphere is worthy of a Christie book, even more as we hear from those different points of view.
The mystery of the dead body is only one facet of a multi-layered story. Rader-Day provides lots of twists and turns on the way to the final chapters. And while I had guessed correctly at some of the outcomes, I was happily surprised by the others. Subplots include searching for a sense of self, relationships and friendships.
I chose to listen to Death at Greenway. The reader was Moira Quirk and she was an excellent choice. She created the perfect voices for each character and it was very easy to identify who was speaking. Bridey's starts off somewhat hesitant and unsure, but grows as the book progresses and she becomes more confident. Gigi's voice had a rich accent, dripping with ennui. When Gigi wants or needs something or someone, she uses her voice and her words to manipulate situations and people - and Quirk does a great job of bringing that to life. Quirk infuses each voice with lots of inflection. The voice for Mr. Arbuthnot, a self centered blowhard, is spot on. Mrs. Arbuthnot's supercilious tones aptly capture her high self regard. Quirk's speed of speaking is just right, she's easy to understand, has a lovely accent and enunciates clearly. I'm always amazed who a conversation is carried out between two or more characters by one reader. Quirk never misses and I would swear I was listening to more than one person. Quirk interpreted Rader-Day's work very well and turned in an excellent performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Death at Greenway.