Gresham & Doyle (2014) trade paperback edition, 314 pp.
BEWARE THE CREEPING SHADOW . . .
"Hallo! Who's in my kitchen?" the cook demanded.
For no reason that she could divine, a feeling as of some looming evil had taken hold of her. Warily she eased her eyes round the arm of the high-backed settle, to see who was there. What she found acted only to magnify her dread.
There was nobody.
Mrs. Flitch fell back a step, certain that there had been a presence there only seconds before, that now was gone. Afraid that some specter was readying itself to leap upon her unawares, she flashed her light round the chimney-corner, the open hearth, the brick walling, the rush-bottomed chairs.
All in a moment the looming evil closed about her like a shroud. Steadily, stealthily, like a misshapen giant, it rose up before her, bigger and blacker than any shadow had any cause to be, flowing upwards and outwards as it spread itself over the bricks and mortar from sanded floor to beamed ceiling.
Then, detaching itself from the wall, the phantom swung round to face her, more like an angry cloud than a solid substance.
The cook shrank back in alarm. A qualm of panic set her heart to racing. "By the powers," she managed to gasp out, "by the powers, what devil is this . . .?"
Mrs. Gillian Aberdovey
A tidy, small widow occupying the gate-house at Haigh Hall; widow of Morgan Aberdovey, and mother of Owen
Youthful son of the preceding, gone away to sea
Captain Jack Barnaby
Skipper of the merchant lugger Salty Sue
Clerk and chief reader at Van Ness and Sons, publishers
Rhinoceros-like physician attending to Sam Gander and Mr. Phergus MacWallop, among others
A merchant vintner in Ridingham
Rector of the Church of St. Mary-in-the-Mews, in Ridingham
A Ridingham hatter
Stable-boy and groom employed at Haigh Hall
A tobacconist in Ridingham
Chief superintendent of the kitchens at Haigh Hall
Mr. Samuel Gander
Father of Lady Martindale, and one-time landlord of the Goose and Gander in Ridingham
Mr. Everson Gecks
Lady Martindale's solicitor, and erstwhile suitor for her hand
Lady Martindale's waiting-maid and confidante, and her companion at sewing
Chairman of the Justices at Petty Sessions
Mr. Edgar Harbottle
Young nephew of Lady Martindale, lately sent down from his college and chronically in debt
Mr. Richard Hathaway
Family friend of Lady Martindale's from Market Snailsby, visiting at Haigh Hall
Chief outside man at Haigh Hall
An enigmatic young woman, transparently mysterious
Ill-tempered gillie in the employ of Mr. Phergus MacWallop
Dud and Bodo Llandudno
Bachelor brothers and coracle men, veteran pliers of the marshways
Mr. Phergus MacWallop
Lady Martindale's litigious neighbor, forever declaring rights of way across Martindale land
The slight but formidable mistress of Haigh Hall, widow of Sir Pedr Rhys Martindale; the former Lizzie Gander of Ridingham
Ship's cat aboard the Salty Sue
Dimpled, curtseying maidservant at Haigh Hall, and a gossip
Constable George Pettiplace
Solid, steady-going specimen of the constabulary race; nicknamed "Timbers" on account of his height
Sessions clerk at Petty Sessions
Mr. Hiram Pinchbeck
A bootmaker of Ridingham, and local historian
First mate of the merchant lugger Salty Sue
A Ridingham confectioner
Plucky little wire-haired terrier, with a gift for nosing in the earth; trusted attendant of Dan Hedges
Tall, stately butler in the employ of Lady Martindale
Mr. Charles Van Ness
Senior in the firm of Van Ness and Sons, publishers, in Ridingham
A Ridingham tailor
Mr. Phergus MacWallop's steely-eyed solicitor, by all accounts a formidable customer
Featured image: Detail from Whose Traces in the Snow? by Carl Kronberger (1841-1921). (Josef Mensing Gallery, Hamm-Rhynern, Germany / The Bridgeman Art Library)