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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Greenway by Jane Adams, Secrets Never Die by Melinda Leigh, and Mr. Scarletti's Ghost by Linda Strattman

Cassie Maltham's husband Fergus has persuaded her to visit rural Norfolk where twenty years earlier Cassie's cousin disappeared.  The children didn't want to be late getting home and took a shortcut through the Greenway, associated in local myth and legend as a portal to a spiritual world.  

When the girls fail to arrive home, a search for them eventually finds Cassie unconscious, but Suzie isn't with her.

Ten-year-old Cassie has no memory of the incident and is unable to explain what happened.  Frantic searches by family, villagers, and the police find no trace of Cassie's cousin, and the case remained unsolved.

For twenty years, nightmares have troubled Cassie, and other emotional problems have circumscribed her life.  Fergus thinks vacationing with friends in the area will help Cassie put the trauma that has haunted her for twenty years to bed.

Soon after their arrival, however, another child disappears in theGreenway--and there are similarities to the disappearance of Suzie Ashmore.  DI Mike Croft  with his sergeant and retired DI Tynan (who worked the case of Suzie Ashmore twenty years previously) do their best to find Sara Jane, the missing child.

Is it a coincidence that Cassie Maltham is present at both disappearances?  

The Greenway, first published in 1995, is the first in Jane Adam's Mike Croft series.  Read in February.

NetGalley/Joffe Books
Police Procedural.  March 12, 2019.  Print length:  266 pages.

 Secrets Never Die is the fifth in Melinda Leigh's Morgan Dane series, and although I have not read any of the previous books, this worked well as a standalone.  

from description:   When a retired sheriff’s deputy is shot to death in his home, his troubled teenage stepson, Evan, becomes the prime suspect. Even more incriminating, the boy disappeared from the scene of the crime.

 The plot was interesting, and I quickly became invested in Evan and his situation.  Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger are called in by Evan's mother.  

Tension is high--the reader knows that Evan is innocent, but the killer wants Evan dead before he has a chance to tell what happened.   

What did not work as well for me is a sense of formula and the fact that the characters of Morgan and Lance seemed based on a romantic and family stereotype rather than in depth characterization.

Kindle Unlimited
Detective Fiction.  March, 2019.  Print length:  330 pages.

The unusual protagonist made Mr. Scarletti's Ghost particularly interesting.  Mina Scarletti has a severe form of scoliosis, probably an S curve, that has left her body twisted and often painful.  Her tiny, twisted body evokes pity and a little revulsion in others , but Mina is quite content with her life and exhibits no self-pity; she is bright, has a lively imagination and sense of humor, and is a published author (of horror stories she doesn't want her family to know about).

Victorian Brighton was a tourist mecca for recreational bathing, for spa treatments, and for various medical problems.  The Palace Pier, the West Pier, the Royal Pavilion remain as attractions today.  As spiritualism began its rise, Brighton was ready for the new entertainment provided by mediums.

When Mina's mother becomes interested in spiritual healing by Mr. Bradley and the seances of medium Miss Eustace, skeptical Mina initially attempts a non-judgmental approach.  As long as these performances provide entertainment, she isn't concerned.   The fact that they draw her mother from her mourning, giving her an interest and encouraging her social life seems a positive thing.  Although  the healing and seances require no payment, it is apparent that "small gifts" are accepted--at which point, Mina becomes concerned that her mother and her friends are being exploited, and she does some research.

Convinced that Miss Eustace is a fraud, Mina attempts to discover the trickery involved and expose Miss Eustace.  It turns out to be more difficult than she imagines--those who believe so want to believe, and even some respected scientists of the day have become converts.  

The research is thorough and references to the real scientists who became interested in spiritualism (as converts or debunkers) and the medium D.D. Homes, give verisimilitude to the story.

Definitely not a thriller, but an intriguing protagonist and an absorbing look at the spiritualist craze that swept across America and Europe.  I will be looking for the next in the series.

Sapere Books
Historical Fiction/Spiritualism.  2018.  Print length:  358 pages.


  1. Both The Greenway and Mr. Scarletti's Ghost appeal to me. Which was your favorite?

  2. All the books sound good to me. :)

    1. Each one was entertaining and kept me from actual mischief.

  3. Mr. Scarletti's Ghost intrigues me the most! I have a soft spot for seances and spiritualism in fiction, regardless if it is portrayed as a hoax or as the supernatural.

    1. I intend to read more in Stratmann's series. I like Mina, and I'm intrigued with the idea that she will continue to uncover psychic fraud. Not that I'd mind a real ghost or two. :)