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Book Review: Winter of Secrets

Reviewed By: Caryn St. Clair

[5 stars]

Winter of Secrets     Amazon US HC Amazon Canada HC
Vicki Delany
Class/Genre:   Mystery   Woman Main Character   Police Procedural
Series: Constable Molly Smith # 3
Poisoned Pen Press

With Winter of Secrets, Delany delivers the best book yet of her British Columbia series featuring Constable Molly Smith. In her third outing, Molly deals with a case that touches two very troubled families. As the book opens, Molly and Dave Evans have pulled Christmas Eve duty on a night when a major snow storm hits. While most of their calls are for cars off the road, the last call of the night is much worse. A car has gone off the road and landed in the river. By the time the car is pulled out, the two people inside are dead. Meanwhile across town, a group of college students from Ontario are waiting for two of their group, Jason and Ewan to return before starting their Christmas party. Instead of the missing boys, there are two unexpected visitors to the bed and breakfast. First, Lorraine LeBlanc, a local girl from a pathetic excuse for a family shows up saying she had been invited to the party by Jason. And then Molly comes to notify Wendy Wyatt-Yarmouth of her brother Jason's death.

What seems to be a tragic accident becomes a case for the police when the coroner discovers that Ewan was dead long before the car went into the river. Was it murder or an accident? Where was Jason taking Ewan's body?

The puzzle of Ewan's death is well done with many clues along the way for readers to ponder. An additional layer to this intriguing mystery, is that it entwines two families who are as different as they can be in nearly every way. While the wealthy Wyatt-Farmouths as well as the other students look down on the locals, and are out right mean to Lorraine, it soon becomes evident that they have at least as many problems in their lives as the poor and dysfunctional LeBlancs. This opens the door for Molly's mother Lucky, the left leaning former hippy turned social worker, to become involved in the case.

While Lucky does not play as large of a role in this book as she did in the previous one, her presence gives the story a human touch while adding a bit of humor. Lucky's ever presence helps define Molly. It seems that wherever Molly goes, Lucky turns up. That Lucky is not always on the same side of a situation as the law enforcement often creates problems for Molly while adding some humor for readers. Readers can't help but empathize with Molly when her ever interfering mother turns up in one of her cases.

There is a tendency for books set around the Christmas season to to be overly sweet with an abundance of Norman Rockwell-like moments. While they make for feel-good reads at a hectic time of year, they are, for the most part a far cry from reality-even in the best of families. And, if things aren't exactly perfect in stable families, the holidays are often nothing short of a disaster for the dysfunctional ones. Instead of the usual holiday sweet mush, author Delany has given readers an excellent entry in her series with Winter of Secrets.

Caryn St. Clair

Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Caryn St. Clair

Please Note: Books reviewed are usually provided by the publisher, author, or an agent. Reviewers usually get to keep the book.

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