Myers, B. R. A Dreadful Splendor. August. 416p. William Morrow.
Is it a gothic romance? Yes, indeed. Is it a mystery? That, too. In fact, A Dreadful Splendor uses nearly all the tropes of the gothic, adding a bit of humor to the mix. Genevieve Timmons, all of 19 years old, is a spiritualist, a conjurer, adept at calling forth the dead to assuage the grief of the living—and lining her own pocket. Trained by her mother, who is recently deceased, Genevieve has hit a bad patch and is in jail until she’s approached by a gentleman who wants her to summon the dead bride of his boss, Mr. Pemberton. Except when Genevieve arrives at Somerset Park, Mr. Pemberton’s estate, she discovers that the widower believes his bride was murdered, and he wants Genevieve to stage a session so powerful it will reveal the killer. (As for Mr. Pemberton, he’s one part Mr. Darcy, one part Heathcliff, and one part Maxim de Winter. Brooding and beautiful.) With days to go before the séance, there’s plenty of time for Genevieve to rattle around the estate, research the past, and become terrified of a ghost who may well be the real thing. Lots of fun for readers who enjoy historical mysteries with a double serving of atmosphere.—Brian Kenney