Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
V.H. Leslie’s Bodies of Water is exceedingly well written, but is far from a conventional crime story, featuring a deserted building that is the foundation to this dark tale.
The deserted building in this novel is a block of flats overlooking the River Thames outside London. The flats are being developed from a late nineteenth century house used as a hydro-therapy establishment; Wakewater House aimed to solve all ills with water as treatment.
When modern-day Kirsten moves into her flat, hoping to start a new life, she thinks she is the only inhabitant, but discovers that there is one other occupied flat – plus a strange woman with long dark hair whom she spots by the river. What happens then is linked with Evelyn, who came to Wakewater House in 1871 to find a cure for her nervous breakdown, after her charitable ministrations to London prostitutes.
When Kirsten begins to find out more about what went on in Wakewater House she becomes obsessed with the woman with the long dark hair and with stories of the women who have drowned in the water that flows past it. The power of this novel is its ability to turn the everyday concerns of its characters steadily into occult horror, and there’s no putting it down until the last sentence.