Saturday, January 02, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Winter of Secrets by Vicki Delany

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Winter of Secrets by Vicki Delany. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Winter of Secrets by Vicki Delany

A Molly Smith Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-676-X (159058676X)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-676-1 (9781590586761)
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: Sergeant John Winters and Constable Molly Smith are simply trying to keep order in their small town when a blizzard hits and tragedy strikes in Winter of Secrets, the third mystery in this series by Vicki Delany.

It is the Christmas holiday season in this small picturesque, peaceful mountain village. University students have come for two weeks of fun, skiing, drinking, and carousing. Jason Wyatt-Yarmouth and five of his college friends, plus his younger high school sister, Mary, are among those visiting from Ontario, having rented rooms at the Glacier Chalet, Mrs. Carmine’s cozy bed-and-breakfast. Although there is always snow in December, drawing the skiing crowds, this Christmas Eve there a blizzard descends upon the town. There are stalled cars, fender benders, and traffic snarls all associated with stormy white-outs. But it soon gets worse when a car misses a turn and skids into the icy waters of the local river. Jason and his best friend Ewan are found in the car, dead. They had been inseparable friends since they were children. Now they're both dead, killed by tragedy on Christmas Eve. The police and medics on the scene all agree this was a terrible accident. When the coroner arrives to examine the bodies, however, he finds that Ewan died twenty hours or more before the accident, the result of a blow to the head. This came as a shock not only to the other students who claim to know nothing about it, but to John and Molly as well. What had happened to Ewan? Why was Jason driving around with a corpse in his car? Molly and John are thrust into an investigation where privileged kids indulging in recreational drugs and sexual promiscuity are of the norm. Their holiday plans have to be put on hold while they sort out who did what and why.

Winter of Secrets paints a grim, often disturbing picture of a cross-section of today's youth, their disregard for other's feelings, seemingly perverse satisfaction in seeing a disliked person being hurt. There are also the attitudes of the distant rich, including the Wyatt-Yarmouth family, towards the local poor. The contrast of these characters with the warmth and good spirit typically associated with Christmas is jarring. The mystery surrounding the death of Ewan, however, will keep the reader's attention to the very end as Molly, with some help from her mother Lucky, unravels the twisted threads of this case.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Winter of Secrets and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): It’s Christmas Eve and the snowstorm of the decade has settled over the peaceful mountain town of Trafalgar, B.C. Constables Smith and Evans have a busy shift, attending fender-benders, tumbling pedestrians, and Christmas tree fires. At the stroke of midnight, they arrive at the scene of a car accident: a vehicle has gone off the snowy road into the icy river. An accident, agree police, coroner, medics. But when the autopsy reveals a shocking secret, Constable Molly Smith and Sergeant John Winters are plunged into the world of sexual predators, recreational drugs, privilege, and high-living.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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