*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Help a family member or save a stranger?
In Whispering Pines, Halloween horrors involve more than goblins and ghouls.
With only a smattering of tourists visiting the village for the Samhain feast, Jayne is excited … no. She’s looking forward to … no. Jayne is guardedly optimistic about spending a few days with her demanding sister. Then a boy goes missing during trick-or-treating and everything changes.
The parents aren’t worried. Their son does this, they say. With a storm bearing down on the village, though, Jayne isn’t content to dismiss this as a case of a curious kid off exploring the woods. Organizing a search-and-rescue mission gives her plenty to deal with but then the word “kidnapped” is mentioned and brings her sister’s long-buried nightmare into the light, forcing Jayne to divide her attention at the worst possible time.
I can honestly say this series is getting better and better. The books do stand alone to a certain extent, but you get more of a feel for Whispering Pines and its unique residents by reading them in order, and Jayne develops as her story progresses.
While the first few books delved into Jayne’s family history and the buried secrets of Whispering Pines, the more recent few have focused more on the residents and Pine Time’s guests in individual mysteries and I feel the setup lends itself really well to these kind of stories.
Veiled Secrets is no exception to this general rule. A child goes missing, one of Jayne and Tripp’s outcomer guests; the locals are issuing some strange warnings about princesses and fairies; and Jayne’s other guests are a creepily suspicious bunch. To top it all off, Jayne has to face some family issues as her estranged sister comes to stay and things get personal.
I was a bit concerned that Rosalyn was the stereotypical ‘spoilt brat’ younger sister to start with, as she flounces around demanding attention and her own way, but Shawn McGuire carefully avoids this snare, showing a genuine connection between the sisters which has been hampered by misunderstandings and miscommunication. It doesn’t take too long for Rosalyn to show hidden depths and for the reader to realise that Jayne is not some innocent victim in their estrangement.
The one thing I missed this time round was more involvement from Whispering Pines kooky residents. They make cameo appearances, but for the most part the victim/suspect pool is focused around the outsiders to the community. I can see why this is necessary though, as if Jayne drags in the locals in every case she’ll soon be run out of town! I think the author has got the balance just right of new and familiar faces, police procedures and woo-woo warnings, to keep the reader entertained and interested.
Personally I am also thankful that Jayne and Tripp continue to develop and move without lots of silly misunderstandings getting in their way. It’s really refreshing to see a mystery investigator who has their home life (mostly) together and is free to focus on issues other than their own romantic life.
This is another great read for established fans, and a nice introduction to Whispering Pines for newcomers who like a solid cosy mystery with just traces and hints of the paranormal.
I had just stepped into the bathroom to check for anything that needed picking up and was sure I heard Arden say, “Beware the princess.” I stepped round the corner into the living room and asked, “What princess?”
Arden was standing there, as though frozen, with a dust rag in her hands, then blinked. “What?”
“What did you say about a princess?”
She gave me a concerned look and slowly said, “I didn’t say anything about a princess, sweetness.”
– Shawn McGuire, Veiled Secrets
Veiled Secrets is available on Amazon right now!