This is a murder mystery set in World War II-era South Carolina. It is about a husband and wife who would have been better off never getting married to each other.
Terence and Faye Underwood are traveling by train to the Ocean Forest, a very high-class resort right on the shore. Faye thinks that Terence is a serial adulterer, constantly looking for women with which to have illicit affairs, despite his constant protestations to the contrary. They are both members of high society, so divorce, let alone raising their voices in argument where others might hear them, is simply not an option; the scandal would be overwhelming.
A few days later, Terence goes off by himself quail hunting, while Faye goes horseback riding along the beach. Several hours later, the horse returns without her. A diligent search along the beach is made, led by Feltus le Bon, the hotel detective. Faye's red scarf, along with some blood, is found near a patch of quicksand. The next day, terence is coerced into showing Feltus exactly where he was hunting. It turns out to be just a few yards from the quicksand. It would have been very easy for Terence to shoot Faye with the shotgun he was carrying, and dump her in the quicksand, freeing him to have as many illicit affairs as he can handle. Things get complicated the next morning when, serving an arrest warrant on Terence, Feltus finds him in bed, murdered.
Investigating further, Feltus focuses his attention on Preacher Cooper, a priest involved in illicit activities, Elizabeth Bascomb, an elderly, blind psychic, and Lord and Lady Ashburn, visiting from England, all of whom have very good reasons for wanting Terence Underwood dead. Feltus tries several ways to ratchet up the pressure, hoping that the guilty party will crack. While all this is going on, the area is battered by a major hurricane.
This is a really good mystery, but I thought that it moved too slowly. The first death does not occur until almost halfway into the book. I understand what the author was trying to do, and totally agree that not all murder mysteries have to move at breakneck speed. The author certainly knows what he is doing; I guess I would have liked it more if the first half of the story moved a little faster than it did.
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