Enchanted Hill

Union Square. Nov. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9781454949817. pap. $18.99. F
Bain’s adult fiction debut (after YA fantasies Splinters of Scarlet and The Disappearances) is an atmospheric historical novel/mystery set in 1930 amongst the glitz and glamour of fictional media mogul Truman Byrd’s legendary California mansion. Aspiring private investigator Cora McCavanagh is working for Byrd’s scorned wife, trying to obtain evidence of Byrd’s extramarital affair by posing as a maid at the estate. She’s shocked when she recognizes one of the Byrds’ guests, Jack Yates, an escaped convict with his own secret: he’s posing as a cattle tycoon. The plot unfolds over one week in the present tense but travels back in time to both Cora’s adolescent years on Pelican Island, where her father worked as a prison guard, and to Jack’s youth in Boston. She and Jack warily agree to help each other uncover Byrd’s own guarded past and keep each other’s secrets.
VERDICT Although the suspense is never gripping, there are plenty of twists and turns, and readers will want to learn how Cora and Jack’s history intertwines with Byrd’s. A will-they-won’t-they romance adds to the intrigue and fans of both historical mystery and romance will find much to like here.
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