I was interested to read Blood from Stone by Frances Fyfield when it was chosen as book of the month, for a crime novel reading group that I'm part of. Fyfield is not an author that I have come across before, but the premise for the novel sounded interesting.
The story opens with barrister Marianne Shearer 'winning' her latest case, although not perhaps in the way that her client would have liked. Rather than having him found not guilty, there was simply not the evidence to proceed. Shortly afterwards she jumps from a hotel window, killing herself, and leaving her colleague, Peter Friel to find out what has happened and why.
As the story progresses we find out more about her final case and the impact it had on those involved in it. Peter discovers more about Marianne and her life, than he ever suspected before. He also meets Henrietta, the sister of the main complainant in this last trial. It soon becomes clear that there is more going on here than was first apparent and that Marianne has very carefully and cleverly set everything up to be revealed as he looks into her life and what she has left behind.
One of the real joys of this book is the descriptions of vintage clothing. Marianne was, in her other 'hidden' life, a lover of fine clothing and had an immense and expensive collection. Henrietta (Hen) works as a dry-cleaner and preserver of vintage clothing, with work rooms where she mends and creates new pieces from the old. The descriptions of these items is fascinating, and it's easy to picture these beautiful items. (Just out of interest, should you read the book, the cape at the V&A, which is described as being similar to the skirt that features is this one.) This lively description of beautiful outfits and dresses really adds to the depth of the book.
One of the other lovely parts of the story are the characters of Hen and Peter, to begin with I wasn't sure where the book was going, or if I actually liked any of the people within it. But I quickly warmed towards these two and their developing relationship.
I'm not sure that I'll be in a rush to read more of her works, but I certainly enjoyed it, although it did take me a few chapters to get into it to begin with.