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The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery by Catherine Bailey (2016-07-19)


The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery by Catherine Bailey (2016-07-19)

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    Catherine Bailey(Author)
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  • Catherine Bailey(Author)
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Review Text

  • By Mr. R. T. Bowes on 28 October 2013

    One cannot deny that this is a major work in terms of research. I shudder to think how many untold hours the author must have spent in digging through records and old letters. However, it seems to me that she is guilty of several things. One is the wildly changing styles adopted throughout the book; sometimes the author addresses us directly in the first person, then swerves into a kind of over-florid "faction" style as she narrates in the third person. This is irritating. The second is that there is an awful lot of padding. When writing a book of this kind, it is often not what you put in but what you leave out that is most important. Bailey leaves absolutely nothing out - nothing. The story gets bogged down in lots of unnecessary detail which is not needed to advance the story and which could have been excised; all this achieves is a lack of clarity and awfully dull patches where there is simply much more information than the reader needs. The premise of the book is also wildly over-optimistic; the "mystery" is so hyped that the reader is deceived into thinking that the solution is murder or the theft of the Crown Jewels at the very least. And it turns out to be nothing remarkably earth shattering. Certainly nothing to warrant calling it a "true gothic mystery". The "secret" rooms are not even secret! Several of the minor "mysteries" are never resolved - we never find out the reason for the break-in to the castle committed by a woman disguised as a man, and we never find out the true reason for Haddon's death. Neither, strangely, are any reactions of the current Duke of Rutland's family explored when the "secret" comes out.I suppose it is a demonstration of Bailey's skill as a researcher and writer that, despite all these caveats, the book races along like a rollercoaster (for the most part) and is (again, for the most part) extremely readable. But its over-long, over-researched, over-laden with too much unnecessary detail and, ultimately, very underwhelming.

  • By Vintage Lady on 13 April 2017

    Another great book from Catherine Bailey. A little long-winded in places but kept my attention and did what she is so good at -- evoking another era.

  • By Gaynor A. on 12 June 2014

    Not quite as good as Black Diamonds, but still full of interest and intrigue. I love visiting stately homes, and books like these add another dimension and give an insight into the people who lived in them. The scandal, family back biting and secret affairs seem to be a common theme in her books, and though Black Diamonds is better this is still worth reading.

  • By Jay on 24 March 2017

    Unputbownable! One of the most gripping and fascinating books I've read in a long time. I read Catherine Bailey's first book Black Diamonds first which was also excellent, can't wait for her next one to be published!

  • By Maureen on 26 April 2017

    This was so gripping. Thrilling historical secrecy.

  • By roger hooker on 6 August 2017

    A good start, but interest tapers off.

  • By DrJ on 19 June 2017

    Fascinating story. A good holiday read

  • By J. A. Milns on 18 March 2017

    A very interesting book which was well researched. Fascinating insights to the aristocracy at the time and their robust sense of self entitlement. However the blurb on the back of the book was misleading.

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