The Waiting Sands (by Susan Howatch)

Before writing her saga novels, and the Starbridge series, Susan Howatch wrote some short 'gothic' novels, full of suspense and excitement. They're rather different from her later work, but even in her early days as a writer she was clear, and concise, with her later distinctive style already beginning to show.

'The Waiting Sands' begins when Rachel receives an invitation to stay with her friend Decima at a castle in Scotland. It turns out that six people are gathered there, each of whom seems very suspicious of the others. Decima believes that she will be killed before her 21st birthday.

When two murders happen, suspicion falls on everyone present, and Rachel is persuaded to conceal part of what she knows until some years later when she returns to the castle.

The story draws to an exciting and suspenseful conclusion that I wasn't expecting. Very well written, even though suspense novels are not normally a genre I enjoy.

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