reviewed by Gail Byrd
Nothing like opening a book with a dead body in a cemetery. Sure, that’s where you normally find them, but this one is above ground, and turns out to be a visitor to the area. First order of business is determining who he is and then, how he died. These are the questions that open The Shadow of Memory, the fourth book in the Kate Hamilton series by Connie Berry.
As the book begins, Kate and Vivian, with whom she is staying for her visit in England, are walking through the cemetery when they discover the body. The question of his identity is soon answered, and creates more questions for Vivian. Apparently he is Will Parker, a retired CID officer. More importantly, he spent a week-long holiday exploring with Vivian and three other teens when they were on vacation at a holiday park almost 70 years ago. He and Vivian had a mild summer romance, but lost touch when they left the holiday park. Now, questions arise as to why he was visiting her village.
Kate suspects the man was murdered and is eventually proved correct. That doesn’t explain his presence nor does it explain the scrap of paper in his pocket with Vivian’s name on it. Kate pushes Tom, her police detective fiancé, to investigate and it is discovered that while Will died as a result of an allergy to bee venom, it may have been manufactured rather than naturally occurring. As Kate begins to investigate, it becomes apparent Will’s visit was associated with the case the teens were investigating while they were at the holiday camp.
Although the case has been ruled a suicide, the teens discovered several “clues” Will thought possibly important. At the end of the week, they put all their clues in a metal box which Will hid and now it appears someone in the present is wanting to find that box, although no one knows why. When the box is found, there appears to be nothing of importance in it, leaving everyone even more confused.
It is not practical, or possible, for Tom to reopen the cold case from so long ago that intrigued the group of teens. Kate, however, is not sure the coroner’s judgement of suicide was correct and she begins her own investigation. She and Vivian contact others who might have information regarding the old cold case. As they investigate, they learn several of the former teen group have recently died and now they want to know if those deaths were natural or if someone is killing members of the old group.
As Kate pursues answers to what took place, she is also working with Ivor, an antiques dealer, to appraise the value of items a group wants to put up for sale to raise funds for a reconstruction project. Included in these items is a painting that, if genuine, is worth several million pounds. The group, and the painting have some threads linking them to Kate’s other investigation, and the more she investigates the more convinced she becomes that the two cases are connected.
Throughout this mystery are several on-going relationship stories that have been part of the previous books; including Kate and Tom’s relationship, how Ivor and Kate came to work together, and other issues affecting residents of the village. If you are a reader who prefers to follow along as relationships develop, you may prefer to read the series in order starting with the first book. Ms. Berry provides some explanation of how relationships have evolved in this novel, but not to the depth she does in the previous books
The mystery itself begins and ends in this book, so if you just want a good, cozy mystery that is well paced and plotted, it is easy to enjoy this it as a standalone. The characters are well developed, the village is charming, and the entire story moves at a good pace.
I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me an advance copy for this review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
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