The Taxidermist's Daughter
by Kate Mosse
Review by Mel Jacob
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062402158
Date: 29 March 2016 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A horrific Gothic mystery, The Taxidermistís Daughter by Kate Mosse explores an old crime and its consequences.
Connie Gilford, the daughter of a taxidermist and one herself, has no memory of the first twelve years of her life. As a child she fell down a flight of stairs and almost lost her life. After recovering, she had no memory of her past and still suffers occasional blackouts.
When she sees a well-dressed strange young woman one evening, it triggers thoughts she can't account for. Then a woman is found dead near her home, floating in the waters leading to the sea. She's dressed in the same coat and has the same color hair as the earlier apparition.
A middle-aged doctor turns up missing and his son seeks to find him. In his attempt to follow the last known steps of his father, he ends at Blackthorn House, Connie's home, and helps her move the woman's body to shore. Later he returns to talk further with Connie.
Gradually bits of memories return to Connie. Meanwhile her father has disappeared and she fears for him. He has turned to drink to avoid his memories. Fearing her father might have been involved in the woman's death, she removes a wire used to strangle the woman. It is the kind used by taxidermists.
Later, Connie is told the young man's father had signed the death certificate as accidental drowning which she knows is untrue. The young man swears his father would not do such a thing. While each pursues locating their missing parents, the weather turns bad and threatens to isolate Blackthorn cottage.
When other men, friends of the missing doctor, also disappear, even the police become concerned. No bodies have been found.
Connie's returning memories are troubling and concern a woman named Cassie. Connie is certain her father has the answers, but he is missing. She finds a partially burned letter with the name of a nearby asylum also associated with the missing doctor. Rising flood waters increase the urgency to find answers.
Mosse is accomplished at creating a dark setting with plenty of suspense and threats lying hidden. Astute readers will identify one of the villains, but surprises still await them. She has a series of other novels including a Gothic, The Winter Ghosts.