Elizabeth Speller has published two previous books but The Return of Captain John Emmett is her first mystery novel. Set in England after the First World War the story draws on the events of the war and the damage done to the young men of England in the war.
Laurence Bartram is one of the men who has come home and is lost. His wife and son died while he was fighting and he has no other family. He has turned his back on life and does not care about anything. Then he gets a letter from Mary Emmett asking Laurence to find out why her brother John killed himself while being treated in a hospital for veterans. As Laurence finds more questions than answers he begins to embrace life again.
The Return of Captain John Emmett is a beautifully written book. The descriptions are superb, the characters are well drawn and the plot moves at just the right pace. The mystery is there but what set the book apart is how events from yesterday are shown to be so reverent to today. War and the toll it takes on those who fight and those who stay home are the same today as they were in 1920.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller in 2011.