reviewed by Gail Byrd
With a slow, steady build, the reader is treated to a story that encompasses life in San Francisco in the early 1800’s, a brief foray onto Alcatraz, and a decades old murder that is uncovered when a wall is torn down, revealing a skeleton and a bag of gold coins.
In The Secret in the Wall, Ann Parker has created a story that from the adult point of view is one of murder, treason, and stolen money. This same story, as seen through the eyes of two impressionable young girls, becomes one of pirates, hidden treasure, and a house full of secret passages and hidden rooms.
In this, the eighth book in the Silver Rush Mysteries series, Parker has done extensive research into the San Francisco Mint, the use of Alcatraz as a prison for Confederate sympathizers, and the efforts women have to exert in order to succeed in the world as independent individuals. In addition to that story which is on an adult level, there are two young girls who uncover some of the clues and spin a story of pirates, treasure, and adventure to be had all in a building next door to the one in which one of them lives.
While the book is definitely one for adults, with some minor tweaking the story of the two girls, Antonia and Charlotte could become a YA novel full of adventure and youthful exploration. The two parts mesh well into one story, with each “investigation” yielding information that would be helpful to the other if they were ever to realize they were involved in the same investigation. That adds a bit of tension throughout the book as Parker moves from one investigation to the other.
This is the eighth in the series, and, while enjoyable, the reader would definitely benefit from reading at least some of the previous books in the series in order to get a better understanding of the character’s back stories both personally and between each other. The mystery itself stands alone, but Parker alludes to prior activities between some of the characters which leave the reader with some questions as to the extent of their relationships.
The characters are well developed and interesting, although some of that development has occurred in earlier books in the series which leaves a first-time reader to the series feeling a little as if they are playing catch-up. If this is a historical period that appeals to you, you may fully expect to go back to books earlier in the series and read them after finishing this one.
I appreciate the advanced read book I received from Poisoned Pen Press which enabled me to provide an unbiased review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.