There certainly are lots of secrets in this story. It’s hard to find anyone in this large cast of characters who isn’t hiding something — some of them have kept their secrets through several generations of family in their small, fictitious, troglodyte village of Reynier, in France.
For people who haven’t read the first book in The Outsiders series, In The Shadows, you will fairly quickly pick up on who’s who in the village beginning with the village derelict, Bruno Houdan, to the two grandmothers, Fabienne Laurent and Jeannette Devlin, who love to gossip and meddle. I’m generally a big fan of mysteries that have crime scene floor plans, maps, or lists of characters preceding the story, but I found the very long list of characters (I think it’s just about everyone in the village of Reynier plus a few from the neighbouring larger town of Belvidere) rather tedious (something like the long passages of begats in the Old Testament) and gave up on it part-way through trusting I would pick it all up along the way. Which I did without too much difficulty.
The first character we meet is Maurelle, an outsider who came to Reynier as a fugitive from a Scotland Yard investigation about a year earlier and is now married to the grandson of Fabienne, Dave Martin. He is a former policeman from the U.S. who now writes murder mysteries for a living. They live in a troglo (cave dwelling) with all the modern amenities and she is home alone during a fierce storm when the power goes off and she is hearing strange noises.
I also found the book a bit hard to get into. In the beginning, especially, there were many things happening, and the whole idea of a troglodyte village was totally foreign to me. (I hadn’t read Book 1.) The first chapter was all about Maurelle with a great deal of minutia about the troglo and Maurelle’s fears and, upon her leaving the troglo in the morning, the discovery of a lost toddler who had apparently weathered the storm alone in the forest all night. When Maurelle reaches the village, the story starts jumping around a great deal between the activities of various villagers who have gathered in the local café, then engage in a search for the tot’s parents who are presumed lost somewhere in the vicinity of the village. This is when the 1st dead body is found, and the plot kicks in and becomes more engaging as multiple suspects are interrogated by the gendarmes from nearby Belvidere and more bodies turn up. The plot is intricate and full of surprises, realistic characters, and of course, many secrets that must be peeled away to reveal the truth — and the murderer. I plan to read more books by Susan, including book 1 in this series. Her books are available at Amazon and other fine booksellers. * * * 1/2
Susan Finlay loves photography and traveling. She was born in Germany, but grew up in the U.S. A mother of two grown children, she lives in Missouri with her husband and their cats. Before becoming an author, Susan earned an Associates degree in business and worked as a Bank Auditor.