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The Crimson Rooms


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About the Author

Katharine McMahon is the author of five novels. She has taught in secondary schools, performed in local theatre and worked as a Royal Literary Fund fellow teaching writing skills at the Universities of Hertfordshire and Warwick. She lives in Hertfordshire.


The Great War is over, but the Gifford women still live in isolated grief. The daughter of the house, Evelyn supports the family by clerking in a lawyer's office at a time when women weren't lawyers. Evelyn is thrown when a woman and child show up on her doorstep. The child is unmistakably the son of her brother James, killed in the war. Meredith, the mother, was James's nurse in a field hospital. Interwoven with this story line is Evelyn's increasingly difficult professional life, which includes fighting to get an impoverished woman's children returned to her and helping defend a man on trial for murder who won't defend himself. Caught between the old guard of English society and the new world of art and jazz, Evelyn teeters on the brink of something very interesting, indeed. VERDICT McMahon's historical novels (The Alchemist's Daughter; The Rose of Sebastopol) are often complex but extremely rewarding in their depth and character development. Her latest is her best novel to date. Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy Sarah Waters, Geraldine Brooks, and Jacqueline Winspear.-Anna M. Karras, Collier Cty. P.L., Naples, FL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

This brisk romantic mystery, set in post-WWI London, begins with a situation worthy of E.M. Forster as Evelyn Gifford and her family receive a visit from a nurse and a young boy who claim to be the wartime lover and child of Evelyn's late brother. Evelyn has little time to ponder the implications: a lawyer in training, she is pressed into service when her firm takes the case of a war veteran accused of murdering his wife and burying her body in the woods (along with all incriminating evidence). Evelyn believes in the man's innocence and tries to unearth new evidence that will exonerate him, but complicating her investigation are Nicholas Thorne, a handsome but engaged attorney whom Evelyn falls for, and the nurse, Meredith, who, having moved in with the Gifford family, begins to force Evelyn out of her settled existence. Despite these distractions, Evelyn doggedly follows a trail of clues leading back to a wartime coverup. In this determinedly old-fashioned novel of tangled mystery and morality, Evelyn makes for a smart and resolutely modest heroine. (Feb.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Lovers of period novels will find this a real page-turner. In a word: arresting. - Herald Sun [The Rose of Sebastopol] is intelligent, thematically complex and skilfully written. - The Big Issue Distinguished by her straightforward, believable prose and impressively even-handed characterisation. - Courier Mail Lovers of period novels will cherish this. - The Daily Telegraph Characters are well drawn, the storyline is maintained effortlessly despite its many flash-backs, the writing is confident, the research has been well handled and the conclusion is really satisfying. - Ballarat Courier

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