Book Review, Historical Fiction, Mystery, NetGalley, Severn House

The Mausoleum by David Mark


1967. In a quiet village in the wild lands of the Scottish borders, disgraced academic Cordelia Hemlock is trying to put her life back together. Grieving the loss of her son, she seeks out the company of the dead, taking comfort amid the ancient headstones and crypts of the local churchyard. When lightning strikes a tumbledown tomb, she glimpses a corpse that doesn’t belong among the crumbling bones. But when the storm passes and the body vanishes, the authorities refuse to believe the claims of a hysterical ‘outsider’. Teaming up with a reluctant witness, local woman Felicity Goose, Cordelia’s inquiries all lead back to a former POW camp that was set up in the village during the Second World War. But not all Gilsland’s residents welcome the two young women’s interference. There are those who believe the village’s secrets should remain buried … whatever the cost.


Cordelia and Felicity’s story begins in 1967 located in Gilsland, a village in Northern England full of historical castles, a spa and a wall constructed by the Roman army.

Stefan had been dead seven months. I don’t think I’d exchanged more than a handful of words with another soul in that time. I wrote letters to family but couldn’t bring myself to read their replies. I gorged myself on food and drink or starved myself as my mood dictated. My face had begun to look unhealthy, like meat left out in warm weather. When I did take the trouble to brush my hair I would find whole clumps of it wrapped around the brush.

Cordelia’s story is tragic and lonely. An intriguing young woman who has lost her son and lives alone in a large house in a small village in a marriage of convenience.

She was one of them. A local girl. One of the tribe. A girl from the borderlands, the place between pages; tucked into the margins between two northern counties and a stone’s throw from the Scottish border. A Gilsland girl. As much a part of the landscape as the cow shit and tumbledown stone walls.

Felicity is kind and high strung. A housewife with a loving husband and two sons who have strange hobbies. Her days are routine, until the body.

Cordelia and Felicity become unlikely friends uncovering a mystery going back to WWII and a man named Jean Favre, known as Le Tanneur due to his ability to skin a man without killing him.

Though the story is slow in the beginning, the closer the women get to the truth, the quicker you want to read to find out what happens. An unusual story with a staggering and unpredictable twist. If you like great character-development with suspense and surprises, this is the book for you.

Thank you to Mr. Mark, Severn House, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book with no expectations of a positive review given.


The Mausoleum

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David MarkDavid Mark spent seven years as crime reporter for theYorkshire Post and now writes full-time. A former Richard & Judy pick and Sunday Times bestseller, he is the author of nine police procedurals in the DS Aector McAvoy series and one historical novel. He lives in Northumberland with his family.

Visit Mr. Mark at his website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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