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The Skeleton in the Grass

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Sara Causseley could not be more delighted by her new job as governess to the aristocratic Hallam clan. The children are adorable, the gardens are a dream, and the conversation stimulating. But ominous political clouds are gathering over Europe, and as England slips inexorably toward World War II, the Hallams’ political views make the family increasingly unpopular. No one, ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published March 21st 2013 by Scribner (first published 1988)
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Aug 24, 2009 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Jeslyn
Shelves: mystery
More social commentary than mystery, this is a short, intriguing portrait of life between the wars. Sarah Causeley comes to Hallam Park to be a governess for the youngest child of an aristocratic family of pacifists. She’s enchanted by their kindness and acceptance as well as by their intellectual conversations. It’s all gracious living, tea on the lawn, and lively discussions of philosophy and literature and politics.

The thing is, the real world hovers only vaguely outside the perimeter of Hal
England, 1936. In the wake of growing unrest in Germany and the outbreak of civil war in Spain, the pacifists at Hallam House are disliked by the local villagers. Accusations of cowardice, in the form of brutal pranks, begin to surface around the Hallam estate. Until one prank goes too far.

This book is more about country life in 1930s England than it is about a mystery. But much to my surprise, I enjoyed reading about this slice-of-life historical fiction very much. If this book is available at
Mystery set in 1936 with 20 year old rector;s daughter Sarah Causeley starting to work as a governess for the Hallam family's six year old daughter. The Hallams are the aristocratic family for a rural area whose parents are pacifists as Europe and Britain moves towards WW II. The head of the family becomes the targets of various village pranks portraying him as a coward. One of the pranksters is killed resulting in increasing village hostility towards the family.

The story is told by Sarah with j
Robert Barnard has always been one of my favorite British mystery writers. He wrote two types: first, the humorous, satirical cozy and second, the type of book this is, a more serious suspenseful novel with a political edge. I generally prefer his lighter books because he does humor so well, but this novel concerning the British gentry between the wars as seen through the eyes of a young governess, was very well done. It's also an examination of conscientious objection and how it affected the me ...more
I'm a little torn on this one. Barnard is a great writer and you can see the Agatha Christie influence on this one: the manor house, the village "types," the sympathetic detective, and, unfortunately, the playing fast-and-loose with time. I enjoyed the book although it creeps into the red zone on the Irony Meter.
Sarah becomes governess to a charming child of the engaging local upper-class Hallam family in a classic Tudor mansion, leaving her dysfunctional family behind. It seems too good to be t
Les Wilson
A good book, but not Silverwood at his best.
"Skeleton in the Grass" is a mystery in same way that "Atonement" is a mystery. That is, it's a very good novel with some suspenseful elements. Barnard is one of my favorite authors, because when he's at his best, as he is here, his work is terrific. This is a mooving story about convictions, class, and conscience in the time between the World Wars. Most highly recommended to anyone who loves this period or who admired "Atonemenent".
This did remind me of Out of the Blackout, in the best possible way. Like that book, this one has a mystery; it even has a murder. But it's also a slice of a certain time and kind of life, and it's what Barnard does with that that makes the book. He gets a lot across in not much real estate.
Lori Baldi
This was an ok read. Not too much suspence. The main character, Sarah, feels a lot of tension in the country home where she has been accepted as part of the fancy famiily. What I did like was the way that the future Sarah told a bit of the story as a flashback type story telling. Different perspective.
Sarah is hired as a governess at Hallam House. A series of pranks is played on the residents of the hous ebecause they are pacifists. Then while pulling off a parnk one of the local boys is killed on the lawn of the house.
read over a third of the book and the only things that have died in the story are a dog, a chicken and Sarah's mom...only to establish her freedom from her father not by foul play!!! Too many other books to read!!!!
Jan 16, 2008 Beth rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Beth by: Mom
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Quick, light fun read. Good ambiance but not very fully developed.
Short and engaging story, very well written.
Well written mystery
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Aka Bernard Bastable.

Robert Barnard (born 23 November 1936) is an English crime writer, critic and lecturer.

Born in Essex, Barnard was educated at the Royal Grammar School in Colchester and at Balliol College in Oxford. His first crime novel, A Little Local Murder, was published in 1976. The novel was written while he was a lecturer at University of Tromsø in Norway. He has gone on to write more t
More about Robert Barnard...

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