Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Secret Sins by Kate Charles

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Secret Sins by Kate Charles. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Secret Sins by Kate Charles

Secret Sins by
A Callie Anson Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-356-6 (1590583566)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-356-2 (9781590583562)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Life may not be getting any easier for curate Callie Anson, but it is definitely getting more interesting. Her relationship with policeman Marco Lombardi grows ever warmer, even though he seems to be keeping her away from his close Italian family. Then her own brother Peter, beloved and engaging as he is, gets a bit too close for comfort when he moves in with Callie.

Professionally, things are challenging as well. Callie has become involved with the problems of a new parishioner. Morag Hamilton is worried about her granddaughter Alex--a lonely and isolated twelve-year-old with a work-obsessed father and a self-absorbed step-mother. If Morag knew how much time Alex spends on the internet, she would have even more cause for worry.

Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Neville Stewart tries to put his personal problems on hold as he deals with Rachel Norton, a pregnant young woman with a missing husband. With the birth of their first baby only a few days away, why would Trevor Norton go out jogging and not return?

Trevor's disappearance may not be what it seems. Just when Neville thinks he's solved it, someone else goes missing: young Alex Hamilton.

Review: Kate Charles' second entry in the Reverend Callie Anson series, Secret Sins, is a series of interrelated vignettes that when viewed as a whole make for an intriguing novel but which barely qualify to be characterized as a mystery.

The primary plot thread and the only one that has a logical beginning and ending is also the most interesting. Alex Hamilton is the young daughter of a successful businessman who attends an exclusive school where she doesn't fit in. She has an antagonistic relationship with her stepmother and though her treasured grandmother lives only a short distance away, Alex isn't allowed to visit with her. She has only a locket by which to remember her mother who is locked away in a hospital in Scotland. When her situation at home becomes intolerable, she leaves on a treacherous trek to find her mother. Callie Anson, the local parish curate who has befriended Alex's grandmother Morag, unwittingly participates in the investigation of Alex's disappearance when she accompanies Morag on a trip to Scotland.

The mystery of Secret Sins is in one of the secondary subplots. A father-to-be is killed one morning while jogging by person or persons unknown. The only item missing is his iPod which the police rapidly conclude the theft of which was the reason he was killed. Astute readers will just as rapidly come to a different, more probable, and in the end correct, conclusion. Callie isn't involved in this subplot which itself seems to have been added for the sole purpose of including a dead body into the book.

The various other plot threads (Callie's relationship with her family, her potential romantic relationship with policeman Marco Lombardi, her relationship with the members of her church and their families, and two or three more) all serve to round out the principal character, but do little else in and of themselves.

Secret Sins is an interesting, well written book populated by appealing, complex characters, but don't expect a whodunit, howdunit, or whydunit—it's none of these.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Secret Sins for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 - Hidden Staircase Mystery Books - All Rights Reserved.

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