The Taxidermist's Daughter

Set at the turn of the 20th century, The Taxidermist's Daughter, a brooding mystery by Kate Mosse (Labyrinth), starts with a superstition and progresses into a murder most twisted. Family secrets, madness and buried crimes make for a tense and chilling journey. In the Fishbourne Marshes of Sussex, old superstitions still have influence. Constantia Gifford discreetly follows her father one night, afraid he might get into trouble in his alcoholic stupor, and finds herself at a churchyard where a small gathering waits to see if an old legend is true. Folk wisdom has it that on St. Mark's Eve, specters of people fated to die in the coming year will appear and pass through the church doors. The mysterious woman she spies in the church's graveyard certainly is no apparition, for the next morning, Connie finds the woman's body in the marsh behind the house she and her father share. She discovers a wire from her father's taxidermy workshop embedded in the victim's neck, clearly used as a garrote.

Mosse builds a thick gothic atmosphere on a foundation of foggy, sucking marshland and the Victorian fad of stuffed birds and animals as decor, a trend not far in the past for Connie. While Connie's stuffing of a blackbird corpse demystifies the process of taxidermy, Mosse works a morbid angle with a killer who uses the tools of the trade against victims. Layers of questions, buried tragedies and looming corvid imagery form a dark tone perfect for mystery readers who want their whodunit served with a side of the grotesque and chilling. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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