The kidnapping of four year-old Brian Arlington twenty years ago was a major news story at the time it happened. Although a man was convicted of the crime, Brian was never found. The story intrigues Mid-western crime reporter Griffin Hadley, and while the family has always resisted previous authors’ attempts to write about the kidnapping, family patriarch Jarret Arlington agrees to cooperate with Griffin to help revive interest in the story and perhaps find out what really happened to Brian.
The rest of the family is none too happy to have Griffin poking around, and neither is the family lawyer Pierce Mather, a frighteningly handsome man who nonetheless fascinates the writer. Things take a surprising turn when someone shows up claiming to be the long lost Brian, although neither Griffin or Pierce believe it.
Lanyon seems to have channeled Agatha Christie, and perhaps several other English authors, in creating “Stranger on the Shore”. The setting is classic British mystery: A huge country estate whose glory days are behind it, a house full of secrets, and an old unsolved crime, all of which is upset by the arrival of a young newcomer. However, while the broad strokes may seem familiar, as with any mystery story, the devil is in the details. The plot offers up lots of clues, red herrings and suspects, as well as a nice offbeat romance on the side.
The relationship between Griffin and Pierce is well played out. You will probably have an inkling from the very beginning that these two are going to get together, but exactly how that’s going to happen is not at all clear. The same could be said for the mystery itself. You may have an idea of what the ultimate solution to Brian’s disappearance will be, but exactly how that gets resolved is left until the last few pages.