Several of the mystery's plot devices will be familiar to Cannell addicts: old family skeletons come to light, a hilarious gothic-novel-within-a-novel caricatures both "Jane Eyre" and "Rebecca," and at least one character turns out to have a long-lost twin.
But Cannell also tackles new Spiritualist ground here, undertaking themes of ghostly emanations, seances, and conjurings. (The bridesmaids feel a tad uneasy about invoking Sophia's spirit, and spend one very funny scene wondering if they should enhance their matronly attire with garlic necklaces or crucifixes.) Cannell effectively opens the door to the spirit world, and then gently closes it as the story's supernatural phenomena all turn out to have perfectly natural--albeit unlikely--explanations. She does leave the door just a tad ajar at the novel's close, acknowledging a spiritual "intuition" that remains unaccounted for. This mystery is rollicking good fun for a dark and stormy night.