Little girls are vanishing from Deadwood, South Dakota.
Fearing her daughter might be next, single mom, Violet Parker, is desperate to find the monster behind the abductions.
With her savings dwindling and just three weeks left to sell her first house or lose her Realtor job, Violet is ecstatic when a handsome jeweler hires her to sell his century-old, Victorian masterpiece, until she sees the dilapidated dwelling. Now, if she could just convince her only buyer to stop rejecting vintage homes as if they're haunted.
Short on time and long on worry, she refuses to give up her dream of a fresh start in Deadwood. But with a malicious coworker trying to get her fired, a secret admirer sending her creepy messages, and a sexy stranger hiding skeletons in his closet, will Violet end up as one of Deadwood's dearly departed?
Paperback, 376 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Ann Charles
Four Stars: A fun mystery with a creepy villain, set in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Violet slumps into her office chair, frustrated and disgruntled. Someone took her parking spot again, forcing to her to tromp two blocks in the heat. To make matters worse, Violet only has three weeks to earn her first commission, if not, she will lose her job as a realtor. As a single mother of nine year old twins, Violet needs to keep her job. If that isn't bad enough, Violet must also worry about the alarming number of kidnappings. In the last year, three young girls, all her daughter's age, have gone missing. Can Violet make a sale and keep her children safe?
What I Liked:
- I picked up Nearly Departed in Deadwood while in a reading slump. Thankfully, this gem of a mystery immediately drew me in with its old time setting, quirky characters, suspenseful mystery and an entertaining heroine. If you want a strong mystery, try this series.
- Violet Parker was a fun and likable heroine. Plucky and determined come to mind when describing her. I loved her attitude especially when it came to dealing with her pigheaded coworker. As the clocks ticks, Violet does everything she can to make a sale. Even if that means befriending one of the local curmudgeons or taking on an impossible house to sale. She manages to balance her work and children as well as her social life, and for the most part, she pulls it off. I loved Violet.
- I enjoyed the setting of Deadwood, South Dakota. It gave the book a cozy feel, but also something more. With its interesting history, Deadwood has a great deal to lend to the story, including ghosts. I like that this book was set in a historical town, and I am looking forward to uncovering more of the town's long history in future installments.
- The mystery is well done and believable. As a mother, there is nothing more frightening than kidnapping, and Violet is faced with that terrifying scenario as she digs and learns more about the missing girls. I liked that this was a creepy, realistic mystery. Most of all, I appreciated that this wasn't a case of a bumbling amateur coming in and solving the mystery ahead of law enforcement. Instead, Violet takes an interest in the case, and she ends up learning the truth in a most terrifying manner. The shocking reveal is disturbing and creepy and unexpected. I enjoyed the twists in this one.
- The secondary characters were terrific. I enjoyed Harvey, the shotgun toting old man who is bit colorful and risqué with his dialogue. He made me laugh. Doc was fascinating after I warmed up to him. I am especially interested to learn more about his talent. Even though I couldn't stand Ray, I liked the antagonistic banter that flew back and forth between him and Violet. It definitely lightened things up. I was even surprised to find that I ended up liking Jeff at the end. Violet's twins Addie and Layne round out the quirky cast, and those two are precocious and a handful. I am looking forward to getting to know all of these characters better.
- There is a romance in this one, and for the most part, I liked it. It starts out on very shaky ground before moving into a friendship and then something more. I thought there was going to be a love triangle, but that resolves before it comes to fruition. The ending was full of heat and sparks, and I am glad that Violet seems to have made up her mind already. I can't stand cozy mystery series with conflicted romances that go on and on.
- The ending wraps up the main mystery in this book, while leaving some rather interesting story threads dangling for the next book, making me all the more eager to head back to Deadwood.
And The Not So Much:
- One minor complaint I had was that the transitions in this one felt a bit choppy. There were several scenes that were just getting to the good parts, and then they ended only to be quickly rehashed down the road. I was most disappointed that the scene where Doc reveals his big secret to Violet was cut out and only the highlights were revisited. That was a pivotal moment in the story, so why did the author cut it out? I also didn't like all the suspense leading up to the mystery date only to have that scene end as well. Why did the suitor really want to meet Violet? I wasn't satisfied with that scene either. Hopefully, in the next book the transitions will be smoother.
- This isn't your typical cozy, so don't expect to go in and find a light mystery. The crime and the reasoning behind it are dark and disturbing. I liked that this was darker, but if you are a fan of the light cozy, you may not like the creepiness of this one.
- I didn't like Violet's best friend Natalie. She came across as a bit shallow and self centered. I am hoping she grows on me over time.
- While for the most part I was satisfied with the romance, I was perplexed by how quickly Violet changed her mind about her suitor. At first meeting, she is a bit put off by him, and the subsequent meetings don't go much better, in fact, she is a bit rattled by him and creeped out by his quirky behavior. Luckily he grew on me and Violet as well. It seemed, though, that she went from wanting to avoid him to lusting after him, like flipping a light switch. I wished there had a been just a bit more development. Still it is a good romance for the cozy mystery genre.
Nearly Departed in Deadwood was a surprising find. This is a book with terrific characters, a suspenseful, realistic and disturbing mystery set in a town brimming with history. I enjoyed this book, and I am very much looking forward to continuing the series. If you are looking for a darker type cozy mystery with some quirky characters, take a chance on this one.
I purchased a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.