I had two reviews printed in the final issue of Mystery News. Once they appear in print, I'm allowed to reprint them here. Here's my review of Winter of Secrets by Vicki Delany, as it appeared in Mystery News.
Winter of Secrets
by Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen Press
Trafalgar, British Columbia is settling in for the snow storm of the decade on Christmas Eve, and the police are prepared for the holiday and snow related problems. Constables Molly Smith and Dave Evans are teamed up for a twelve hour shift, expecting their share of car accidents and drunken fights. The tragedy of the night is an out-of-control SUV that took a hill too fast, ending up in the river. Despite all the efforts of police and fire, no one could save the two young men. So, the police moved on. When Smith and Evans ran into sixteen-year-old Lorraine LeBlanc, the daughter of two drunks arrested earlier, Molly wished she could help her, but Lorraine insisted she was off to her boyfriend’s for Christmas Eve.
Imagine Molly’s surprise when she found Lorraine at a local B&B, when she arrived to inform the sister of one of the accident victims of his death. Wendy Wyatt-Yarmouth and her brother, Jason, were part of a group of college students who flew in for a couple weeks of skiing. And, Lorraine was there to celebrate a “real” Christmas, thinking she had found true love with Jason. Nothing good could come of wealthy young outsiders with too much money and the local young people, with little or nothing.
Christmas was over by the time Sergeant John Winters returned to the office, but a call from the pathologist’s office would involve him in the Christmas Eve accident. When he learned one of the young men in the SUV had been dead for at least twenty-four hours before going in the river, he called on Smith to work with him on the investigation.
Delany never forgets that Molly is new to police work. She makes the mistakes of a young cop, including one in front of her mother. Through Molly, Delany shows how difficult it is to grow up, particularly in a front of people who know you.
And, the people of Trafalgar add interest and charm to these mysteries. Molly and Winters return, along with the rest of the police force, and a Mountie who shows interest in Molly. There are the town drunks, their daughter, Lorraine, and her brother. Molly’s former best friend reappears, along with the abusive boyfriend who almost killed her. Even those readers meeting Molly’s mother for the first time will be intrigued. Lucky is a true character, an idealist, ex-hippie, who thinks nothing of interfering in police investigations, even Molly’s. Delany creates small town characters as well as anyone writing police procedurals now.
Vicki Delany vividly portrays Trafalgar in the three mysteries in this series. It’s described as an “opinionated, left leaning, artistic, independently-inclined town nestled in the mountains and forests deep inside British Columbia. She brings this town to life, and makes it a familiar, small town, even if a little eccentric. Those readers looking for charming settings won’t go wrong.
Delany never forgets this is a small town police force with more than one case. In Winter of Secrets, the police work everything from car accidents to bar fights and shoplifting. And, of course, there’s the investigation of an accident that could be more than a car accident. But, it isn’t easy for local cops to probe into the lives of influential, well-off people, particularly the lives of the Wyatt-Yarmouth family and friends.
Winter of Secrets is another outstanding police procedural from Vicki Delany. Anyone who enjoys small town police procedurals should try her book, set in eccentric Trafalgar.
Courtesy Mystery News, Vol. 27/Issue 5, Oct/Nov 2009.
Vicki Delany's website is http://www.vickidelany.com
FTC Full Disclosure: I received the copy of Winter of Secrets from Mystery News in order to review it.