This review is for the Doubleday & Company hardback edition, undated but probably 1969 312 pages of story. THE SHIVERING SANDS did not make the USA Today's Top 150 Best-Selling books list, as USA Today did not begin tracking book sales until October 1993. Victoria Holt has two later novels on this best-seller list.
Carolina Verlaine suffered tragedies. Her parents, both archeologists, died in a train crash in route to a dig. She forfeited a promising career as a pianist in deference to her husband Pietro who was more talented, but he dies, leaving Carolina a widow at age 28. Then Carolina's only sister, Roma Brandon, also an archeologist, disappears just as her team finishes excavating Roman ruins at the Lovat Stacy estate in eastern England. Carolina's former piano teacher who is teaching four young women at Lovat Stacy decides to retire and recommends Carolina to replace her, but without mentioning to her employer that Carolina is Roma's sister. Carolina, determined to learn what happened to her Roma, accepts the position without revealing her relationship to Roma.
The story, in the 1880s, is set in near Deal on the eastern shores of the United Kingdom. Four to six miles east of Deal, across the Downs channel, lays the Goodwin Sands, shifting quicksand. Over the past couple centuries, the Goodwin Sands became the graveyard for an estimated 2000 vessels. Although Lovat Stacy and the nearby village, Lovat Mill, are fictional, the actual village Martin Mill appears to be close to the fictional setting between the exiting Walmer and Dover castles.
The story gradually reveals the tragedies of the Stacy household over the past several decades leading to the conflicts and intrigues in the narrative present. SHIVERING SANDS is well written in the first person, giving Carolina the only point of view, which keeps the reader engaged in trying to solve the mysteries of Lovat Stacy along with her.
After reading three best selling contemporary romance thrillers, which I rated three stars, I found THE SHIVERING SANDS without a dust jacket amongst our books of unknown origin. I began reading it without knowing the genre. What a nice surprise. This is a five-star historical, romance, mystery, psychological thriller.