An American author living in Cambridge, England, Emily Winslow has now published two mysteries set in her new home. The latest, The Start of Everything, follows five narrators to piece together a complex tale centered on the corpse of a young woman found caught in a fen sluice gate. Here’s the start of my review in today’s Washington Post:
Fr. Ronald Knox, a founding member of Britain’s famed Detection Club, concluded his 1929 “Decalogue” for detective fiction with this rule: “Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.”
Despite being set in Cambridge and then in an English manor house, Emily Winslow’s second novel, The Start of Everything, is far removed from the Golden Age of British mysteries, but with the persistent doubling that dominates this intricately plotted tale, I could hardly help thinking about Knox’s rules. People are frequently mistaken for others. Pairs of objects play central roles (watches and sweaters, specifically). While no actual twins appear, the novel features two sets of brothers, and in one case the likeness between them provides both a poignant, unsettling scene of impersonation and a legacy of tension and trouble.