Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam

Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam

MKO Publishing (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9786823-0-0 (0978682300)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9786823-0-9 (9780978682309)
Publication Date: December 2006
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): For widow Mary Shumak and the seven boarders at her tumble-down house in Lewiston, PA, life’s about to get very difficult. Greedy casino developer Victor Masters has set his sights on the land and will stop at nothing to get it.

Now Mary must somehow come up with enough money to spare their house from the wrecking ball—with some dubious help from her scheming vagabond brother Bert, and a whole rogue’s gallery of other boarders and friends. Together, they’ll try their hands at ill-fated renovations, riverboat gambling, and even a game show, in a race against time to save the only place they’ve ever called home.

Review: “I love a mystery!” Although Mrs. Shumak’s Boarding House would in no way be considered a mystery like the works of Patterson, Baldacci or Connelly, this book written by Marty Kam has the tension, questions and excitement of a mystery. There are scheming contractors, members of a mob, a banker indebted to the mob or the contractors, and not so legal investigators. There’s even a 97 year old Italian with a gun, and he uses it.

The story is of a widow, Mary Shumak, who has inherited a very large beautiful, but very old white house and grounds. She has expected that she and her children will live their lives out there. This is their home. Living in the house, too, is her rather unstable, freeloading brother. Most of the time, when he isn’t planning something that will upset Mary, he is fun to have around. There are six boarders. This is their home, too. We meet each and every one around the breakfast, lunch or dinner table. Each one is unique in their backgrounds and ages.

The “mystery” begins when a greedy contractor wants to buy the house and land and build a large casino at the bend of the river, to be financed by the local mob organization. He will give Mary $400,000 for it, but needless to say, she refuses. The dialogue and situations that arise from the plans of the mob and the contractor keep the reader alert and interested in just how these few people will be able to keep their home.

The contractor sent an “inspector” out to estimate just what had to be done to make this old house livable, after all the roof was falling in, some wooden studs were broken and showing through the siding. It was really not a safe house to live in and according to the inspector it will cost about $50,000. But Mary will not give in. She asks the bank for a mortgage loan, which was refused because of the banker was in association with the contractor.

The mob went into action to scare the tenants and ruin the house even more. With that the children secretly came up with a plan where they could help. Mary’s brother got the roomers behind closed doors and plotted a way they could get the money. All this was kept secret from Mary until the last minute.

This is a story about a woman trying to do the right thing: for herself, her children, her brother and her roomers. Mary faces losing her home, the life she and her children have always known, her brother and her friends who depend on her.

Mrs. Shumak’s Boarding House is a great book.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty for contributing a review of Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House and to Blanco & Peace for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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