Ashes to Ashes
The Ashes Trilogy
Lillian Stewart Carl
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(First print-published by Berkley Publishing Group in 1990)
Historian Rebecca Reid comes from Missouri to a replica of a Scottish castle located outside the small town of Putnam, Ohio, to catalog a collection of historical artifacts. She knows that James Forbes, the castle's owner who had just been found dead at the foot of a stairway, owned the Erskine letter—-a letter which might prove that Mary, Queen of Scots' son died at birth and was secretly replaced by another woman's. It’s just what Rebecca needs for her Ph.D. dissertation.
The castle was originally built by James’s parents, John Forbes, captain of industry and collector of all things Scottish, including a young Scottish wife, Elspeth—-who threw herself from the fifth story window when she lost her infant daughter.
At Dun Iain Rebecca finds herself saddled with a co-worker, Michael Campbell, a Scottish professor sent from the Museum of Scotland to separate out the Forbes' family treasures and decide what would go to home to Scotland and what would stay with the historical society. He has a tartan chip on his shoulder and, Rebecca suspects, a hidden agenda. Sparks fly.
Sparks of a different kind fly between Rebecca and Eric Adler, the charming, handsome executor of the Forbes estate. Then there’s Dorothy, the eavesdropping busybody of a housekeeper who had been cleaning Dun Iain for thirty years or more, and handyman Phil Pruitt, his son Steve, and Steve’s girlfriend Heather, all of whom always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And there’s a castle cat that Michael and Rebecca find personable but that Eric fears.
Ghostly presences stalk the halls, throw dishes in the kitchen, turn lights on and off, and move objects around. When valuables start vanishing and accidents start happening, Rebecca suspects more than just ghosts are at work. Someone wants her and Michael out of Dun Iain.
And amid all the precious artifacts, she can’t find the Erskine letter.