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Broken Music

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The year is 1919 and the population of Great Britain is still struggling to its feet after being hit by the atrocities of the First World War. Progress is slow, even in quiet spots like the village of Broughton Underhill, on the edge of the Black Country. Gradually, soldiers return, wounds begin to heal and people try to move on with their lives. But for the Wentworth fami The year is 1919 and the population of Great Britain is still struggling to its feet after being hit by the atrocities of the First World War. Progress is slow, even in quiet spots like the village of Broughton Underhill, on the edge of the Black Country. Gradually, soldiers return, wounds begin to heal and people try to move on with their lives. But for the Wentworth family, this proves to be impossible as former police sergeant Herbert Reardon returns to the village, determined to finally find out what happened the night that his daughter, Marianne, was found drowned in the lake all those years ago, when the war was just beginning. However, as Reardon begins to investigate, it becomes clear that secrets still abound and lips are staying sealed. When Edith Huckaby, a maid from Oaklands Park, is found murdered in exactly the same spot, Reardon is convinced that the two cases are linked. As Reardon tries to discover the hidden truth, his suspects and witnesses are painstakingly trying to rebuild their lives, in a world which has been changed and scarred forever. "Broken Music" is a masterful portrait of the horrors of the frontline and the anxiety of the home front, as the loves and losses of wartime Britain are woven together and the truth slowly dawns on a local tragedy.


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The year is 1919 and the population of Great Britain is still struggling to its feet after being hit by the atrocities of the First World War. Progress is slow, even in quiet spots like the village of Broughton Underhill, on the edge of the Black Country. Gradually, soldiers return, wounds begin to heal and people try to move on with their lives. But for the Wentworth fami The year is 1919 and the population of Great Britain is still struggling to its feet after being hit by the atrocities of the First World War. Progress is slow, even in quiet spots like the village of Broughton Underhill, on the edge of the Black Country. Gradually, soldiers return, wounds begin to heal and people try to move on with their lives. But for the Wentworth family, this proves to be impossible as former police sergeant Herbert Reardon returns to the village, determined to finally find out what happened the night that his daughter, Marianne, was found drowned in the lake all those years ago, when the war was just beginning. However, as Reardon begins to investigate, it becomes clear that secrets still abound and lips are staying sealed. When Edith Huckaby, a maid from Oaklands Park, is found murdered in exactly the same spot, Reardon is convinced that the two cases are linked. As Reardon tries to discover the hidden truth, his suspects and witnesses are painstakingly trying to rebuild their lives, in a world which has been changed and scarred forever. "Broken Music" is a masterful portrait of the horrors of the frontline and the anxiety of the home front, as the loves and losses of wartime Britain are woven together and the truth slowly dawns on a local tragedy.

30 review for Broken Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mo

    This could have been a very good book… it SHOULD have been a very good book… but the way the story was constructed just about did me in. All the back and forth and back and forth and back and forth made it just about impossible to follow with any degree of enjoyment. The story was excellent, the construction was clumsy. It didn’t help that the opening chapter introduced a slew of characters, and I knew there was not a snowball’s chance in hell that I would be able to remember who they were, and h This could have been a very good book… it SHOULD have been a very good book… but the way the story was constructed just about did me in. All the back and forth and back and forth and back and forth made it just about impossible to follow with any degree of enjoyment. The story was excellent, the construction was clumsy. It didn’t help that the opening chapter introduced a slew of characters, and I knew there was not a snowball’s chance in hell that I would be able to remember who they were, and how they were all related to each other. (And I was right!) This was a book that lost its way. It could have benefitted from some good editing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susan Kirk

    I agree with some of the other reviewers that this author might have used the back and forth structure of the book to better advantage, but I still enjoyed it. This is a period of time in the WWI era that I particularly enjoy. I thought the characters were well drawn, and I believe her ability to describe settings is marvelous. I did figure out the mystery before I read the climax, but only because of one well-described scene. I still finished the book and enjoyed it despite knowing about the mu I agree with some of the other reviewers that this author might have used the back and forth structure of the book to better advantage, but I still enjoyed it. This is a period of time in the WWI era that I particularly enjoy. I thought the characters were well drawn, and I believe her ability to describe settings is marvelous. I did figure out the mystery before I read the climax, but only because of one well-described scene. I still finished the book and enjoyed it despite knowing about the murderer's identity. I will definitely read another of her books. Because mysteries are written so directly today with little regard for description, I enjoyed going back to a style that I remember from growing up. Eccles kept me enthralled the whole way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Way

    I love Marjorie Eccles books. This book was another wonderful British mystery by this author!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    An evocative and haunting mystery set in Great Britain that features scenes from just before and after the Great War (WW1). The author has created a setting and characters that are well defined and appealing. The initial mystery evolves as the story develops through a series of flashbacks that are well crafted and ends with a denouement that is in many respects unexpected. A highly recommended read, especially for readers who enjoy tales surrounding World War 1.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I really did enjoy this book. I gave it a 3 star rating because it seemed hopeless neat the beginning to keep track of all of the randomly introduced characters. However, I did find the story quite good.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    a fine mystery, well-written

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan Katz

    Great story, good characters, couldn't quite predict all the events as they unfolded!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Flo

    It's hard to summarize the plot of Broken Music by Marjorie Eccles. Is it a well written tale of luxurious life in a small town of England before WWI, its background, the Downton Abbey-like Oaklands where Lady Sybil and husband live with their son, Greville and daughter, Eunice? Or their nearest neighbors, living in the rectory, the daughters, Nella, Marianne, Amy and son, William. Or is it a murder mystery when at the outbreak of war a young girl is found dead and another dies at the same spot It's hard to summarize the plot of Broken Music by Marjorie Eccles. Is it a well written tale of luxurious life in a small town of England before WWI, its background, the Downton Abbey-like Oaklands where Lady Sybil and husband live with their son, Greville and daughter, Eunice? Or their nearest neighbors, living in the rectory, the daughters, Nella, Marianne, Amy and son, William. Or is it a murder mystery when at the outbreak of war a young girl is found dead and another dies at the same spot after the war. We follow the detective Reardon slowly slowly trying to solve both mysteries, but far too slowly to keep up the suspense. The story is a good one, the writing quite fine, and yet I was impatient to finish it so I could read something better.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eimile

    I found this gem in a used bookstore and decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did! I have never read mystery before this book. Mystery books just didn't seem very appealing to me but was I ever wrong! Ms. Eccles has weaved an intriguing tale in a time era I enjoy reading. Timed in and around the First World War, Eccles not only creates a mystery for her reader, but also sends them on a journey through time. I found myself living right alongside her characters. I could see how they lived, wha I found this gem in a used bookstore and decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did! I have never read mystery before this book. Mystery books just didn't seem very appealing to me but was I ever wrong! Ms. Eccles has weaved an intriguing tale in a time era I enjoy reading. Timed in and around the First World War, Eccles not only creates a mystery for her reader, but also sends them on a journey through time. I found myself living right alongside her characters. I could see how they lived, what they wore, how they looked and how the world conflict changed their society forever. I love English novels and this was another enjoyment to add to my list. Eccles apparently has lived much of her life in the very area in which she sets her characters. Her intimate knowledge of their surroundings and way of life made the book easy to be swallowed up in. Her manner of writing is also very English, a change which I find completely enjoyable. My favorite (favourite)! The only thing I would change is the pace at the end of the novel. The mystery found its resolution a bit too quickly for my taste. It can leave me with a feeling that I've been cut off and am waiting for more. The story, however, did resolve completely. I definitely recommend this novel to any mystery lover and have already passed along my copy to my mystery-loving friends. I look forward to reading more of Eccles' work.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie Hayes

    ‘Broken Music’ by Marjorie Eccles Published by Allison & Busby, August 2009. ISBN: 978-0-7490-0796-6 Set in 1919, the inhabitants of the village of Broughton Underhill, on the edge of the Black Country are slowly healing from the effects of the war, as the soldiers return. Among them is former police sergean and ex-army sergeant Herbert Readon who feels compelled to find out what really happened on the night Marianne Wentworth was found drowned at the beginning of the War. The Wentworth family ‘Broken Music’ by Marjorie Eccles Published by Allison & Busby, August 2009. ISBN: 978-0-7490-0796-6 Set in 1919, the inhabitants of the village of Broughton Underhill, on the edge of the Black Country are slowly healing from the effects of the war, as the soldiers return. Among them is former police sergean and ex-army sergeant Herbert Readon who feels compelled to find out what really happened on the night Marianne Wentworth was found drowned at the beginning of the War. The Wentworth family had not always lived in the gloomy rectory at Broughton, they had previously lived in a pleasant house in Worcester but that had been when Mama had been alive. But following the death of Marianne, the day the music stopped, Amy, Nella and Grandy (Eleanor), live in the cold world of Francis Wentworth. But now William was coming home and that surely is a cause for celebration. Herbert’s investigations into the death of Marianne Wentworth meet with surprising resistance from the locals and with an outright ‘just the matter be’ from her family. But Herbert can’t let it be, happening on the eve of war he feels that not enough time was spent uncovering the events that led to her death. When a maid is found murdered in exactly the same spot Radon is stirred on by a possible link between the two cases. Creating a picture of the effects of war on a village, and family tragedy, this is a marvellous book. And is highly recommended ------ Lizzie Hayes

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jane Irish Nelson

    Excellent and atmospheric novel, told from multiple viewpoints, with occasional flashbacks that help to set the scene. The majority of the story takes place shortly after the end of the First World War in the small village of Broughton Underhill. Four years ago, just as the war broke out, tragedy struck when Marianne Wentworth drowned in the lake on the Oakland Park estate. Quickly ruled an accident, Sergeant Reardon was never quite satisfied with the verdict. So after the war he returns to make Excellent and atmospheric novel, told from multiple viewpoints, with occasional flashbacks that help to set the scene. The majority of the story takes place shortly after the end of the First World War in the small village of Broughton Underhill. Four years ago, just as the war broke out, tragedy struck when Marianne Wentworth drowned in the lake on the Oakland Park estate. Quickly ruled an accident, Sergeant Reardon was never quite satisfied with the verdict. So after the war he returns to make his own unofficial investigation. Just as he winds this up, another body is found, but this time it is definitely murder. Could this second death be somehow related to the first? Reardon, appointed acting inspector, sets out to discover the tragic truth.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Barbd

    This book evokes some of the spirit of Downton Abbey, the lives of the inhabitants of the stately manor are intertwined with the villagers and servants around the time of WWI. Although, this is much more than an "upstairs/downstairs" story. There's a mystery at the heart of this book. A policeman-turned-soldier comes back to the village after the war. He wants to unofficially reopen the investigation into the mysterious death of one of the daughters of the gentry. I'd recommend it for fans of Do This book evokes some of the spirit of Downton Abbey, the lives of the inhabitants of the stately manor are intertwined with the villagers and servants around the time of WWI. Although, this is much more than an "upstairs/downstairs" story. There's a mystery at the heart of this book. A policeman-turned-soldier comes back to the village after the war. He wants to unofficially reopen the investigation into the mysterious death of one of the daughters of the gentry. I'd recommend it for fans of Downton Abbey, of course. Marjorie Eccles writing style and this period also would appeal to fans of Kate Morton & Audrey Niffenegger.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Hawley

    Another look at the casualties of World War I in England enmeshed with a murder mystery in a small village. Eccles has the cliche Big house with its secrets both upstairs and downstairs, the rectory with its money straightened clergyman doubting his beliefs and leaving his daughters to their fates, the scarred war veteran searching for meaning in his life and all the trappings of young love and the intervention of warring nations. I kept looking for something a little more surprising with the cl Another look at the casualties of World War I in England enmeshed with a murder mystery in a small village. Eccles has the cliche Big house with its secrets both upstairs and downstairs, the rectory with its money straightened clergyman doubting his beliefs and leaving his daughters to their fates, the scarred war veteran searching for meaning in his life and all the trappings of young love and the intervention of warring nations. I kept looking for something a little more surprising with the climax and thought the lady of the manor's secret a little too overused, but overall the book grabbed my attention.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne Slater

    The back and forth between years gets a little boring, but the story is well laid out, characters deftly sketched and utterly believable, warts and dimples and all. In the end, it is the personalities that drive the story for the most part. Social issues(class, economic, political) of the day tidily drawn in but one is not whacked over the head with them: they provide rationale for much of the behavior the various characters exhibit. In the end, one is left with a bittersweet sadness for most of The back and forth between years gets a little boring, but the story is well laid out, characters deftly sketched and utterly believable, warts and dimples and all. In the end, it is the personalities that drive the story for the most part. Social issues(class, economic, political) of the day tidily drawn in but one is not whacked over the head with them: they provide rationale for much of the behavior the various characters exhibit. In the end, one is left with a bittersweet sadness for most of the characters, and a sense of hope for the main investigator, whose own story is as interesting as the rest.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    I didn't finish this, but I don't really think it's a one star book. It's just mostly very, very boring. Some sort of interesting characters in some sort of interesting situations, but any potential caring about either is slowly smothered in a crawling pace and in time-shifts that put one to sleep rather than illuminate. And it's not really much of a mystery, at least as most would think of one (the first half that I read anyway) - there's a death, but there's little/no investigation (although i I didn't finish this, but I don't really think it's a one star book. It's just mostly very, very boring. Some sort of interesting characters in some sort of interesting situations, but any potential caring about either is slowly smothered in a crawling pace and in time-shifts that put one to sleep rather than illuminate. And it's not really much of a mystery, at least as most would think of one (the first half that I read anyway) - there's a death, but there's little/no investigation (although it appears that may change a bit in the second half - I peeked). So, just as I couldn't finish it, I can't recommend it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mysha-Tatiana

    I randomly picked up this book at my local library and decided to read it because I was interested in the premise and the WWI background. I believe this book is beautifully written and woven so intricately that it kept the mystery interesting. I also loved the characters who were very believable. The WWI setting provided the perfect backdrop and there was obviously a lot of research that went into this. I vastly enjoyed this book and see myself reading something by this author in the near future I randomly picked up this book at my local library and decided to read it because I was interested in the premise and the WWI background. I believe this book is beautifully written and woven so intricately that it kept the mystery interesting. I also loved the characters who were very believable. The WWI setting provided the perfect backdrop and there was obviously a lot of research that went into this. I vastly enjoyed this book and see myself reading something by this author in the near future.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Loved the twist at the end, just wish it hadn't taken so many pages to get to it! "The year is 1919 and the population of Great Britain is still struggling to its feet after being hit by the atrocities of the First World War. Progress is slow, even in quiet spots like the village of Broughton Underhill, on the edge of the Black Country. Gradually, soldiers return, wounds begin to heal and people try to move on with their lives."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This was a fun, quick read, and I really enjoyed it. I was wrapped into the story, even before the crime took place. I particularly enjoyed the characters and setting: a small English town a few months after WWI ended. It was not a particularly original story but the interesting characters made it worth reading (though I do find it a bit unnecessary for everyone to fall in the love with everyone else)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda Amos

    I enjoyed this. Set in England around the Frist World War, a girl is found dead. Three young men went to war - did one of them kill her? Another girl is found at the same spot a few years later. The policeman who investigated the first death is back from the war and is put on this case as well. Are the two deaths connected? Lots of atmosphere, a lovely read. I will read more from this author.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    First book I've read by this author but will look for more -- a quick story with strong characters and story. I'm interested in the World War I period & this brought in some of the history and emotions of that time. The police inspector, Reardon, was an interesting character . . . maybe he'll appear again in later books.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    This book really surprised me. I had heard of Marjorie Eccles before but had never read anything by her. This novel, set just after WWI, is very engaging and evocative. It takes the country house & village atmosphere and imbues it with a whole post-war feeling, with a family secret and some interesting "red herrings." I plan to read more of Ms. Eccles.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vilo

    This is a haunting mystery set just after World War I in Britain. Not only are people recovering from war, but society is undergoing a seismic shift as class barriers are rupturing. The book has a lot to say about how to move on after unbearable losses.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carol Best

    Of all the Eccles's books that I have read, this is my favourite. I loved the gentle easy unfolding of the story. The characters were so alive and believable as well as likeable. I really couldn't put the book down but I truly did not want it to end. Excellent read!

  24. 5 out of 5

    The Bookish Hooker

    The cover to Broken Music is what drew me in at first. I loved the time frame in which the book took place, after World War I. The characters were well written and the mystery was very engaging. I was definitely surprised at the ending.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roshni

    An enjoyable read that slowly builds up pace. It is realistic in that the mystery is not tied up with a nice bow at the end. The writing also paints a picture of the post world war era and the ways the war affected the lives of the common man.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This was not a particularly original story, but Eccles does this kind of thing well. A young girl dies right before the start of WWI and right at the end of the war an investigation uncovers family secrets.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    Really enjoyed this book, set in the immediate years after WWI. I deals mostly with the drowning of a young girl just before the war started, and why her death occurred. The setting is good, the characters well developed, and the story definitely kept my interested to the end.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    I kept reading and reading and reading...and I simply couldn't find a mystery. There were finally a few references about a drowning that had occurred before the war but they were all rather half-hearted. I gave up and moved on to another book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ram Kaushik

    An engrossing read, slowly builds momentum and recreates the total desolation of World War I quite vividly amidst quite a well plotted mystery. Evokes BBC's Foyle's War serial which is set post WWII.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Rogers

    I'll look for more books by this author. I guess it was slow moving, but the people were engaging enough that it wasn't hard to keep going.

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