Wednesday, May 4, 2022

ARC Review: The Shadow of Memory by Connie Berry

The Shadow of Memory

Connie Berry
Series: Kate Hamilton Mysteries (Book 4)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (May 10, 2022)

Description: In Connie Berry’s fourth Kate Hamilton mystery, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton uncovers a dark secret buried in Victorian England.

As Kate Hamilton plans her upcoming wedding to Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, she is also assisting her colleague Ivor Tweedy with a project at the Netherfield Sanatorium, which is being converted into luxury townhouses. Kate and Ivor must appraise a fifteenth-century painting and verify that its provenance is the Dutch master Jan Van Eyck. But when retired criminal inspector Will Parker is found dead, Kate learns that the halls of the sanatorium housed much more than priceless art.

Kate is surprised to learn that Will had been the first boyfriend of her friend Vivian Bunn, who hasn’t seen him in fifty-eight years. At a seaside holiday camp over sixty years ago, Will, Vivian, and three other teens broke into an abandoned house where a doctor and his wife had died under bizarre circumstances two years earlier. Now, when a second member of the childhood gang dies unexpectedly—and then a third—it becomes clear that the teens had discovered more in the house than they had realized.

Had Will returned to warn his old love? When Kate makes a shocking connection between a sixty-year-old murder and the long-buried secrets of the sanatorium, she suddenly understands that time is running out for Vivian—and anyone connected to her.

My Thoughts: A chance to assess and possibly auction off an unknown Vermeer sends Kate and her mentor Ivor Tweedy to Netherfield which is being converted from a mental hospital to upscale condos. The auction would be a windfall for Ivor whose business is in quite a downturn. However, Kate isn't sure that the painting is an original. Her feeling is that it is a forgery. The trustees and developer of Netherfield is really counting on the money of an original work of art to save the project. 

While the painting is being authenticated, Kate and her elderly landlord Vivian discover a body in the local graveyard. The victim turns out to be Vivian's first crush and the boy she played detective with in their days at a vacation camp which happens to be near Netherfield. Learning that the victim was retired CID and obsessed with solving the mystery that they worked on as young teens, makes Vivian and Kate want to solve the case themselves. 

And when two of the other of the group of five also die in suspicious accidents, Kate is convinced that this mystery from the past is stretching its tendrils into the present. However, her fiancĂ© Tom Mallory, also of the police, can't be of much help to her since the deaths were determined to have been accidents, ergo, no crime was committed. 

As Kate investigates both the past mystery and the current deaths, she puts herself in some danger from villains willing to kill anyone who gets in their way. But her unique way of making connections might be the thing that finally solves both mysteries. 

Beyond the mystery, Kate and Tom are trying to figure out their future. They are engaged but don't know where they will live. Kate has a thriving business in Ohio; Tom has the chance at a promotion in his work in England. Tom's mother hates Kate and is a roadblock on any path to happiness in England. But Kate loves England and the friends she has made there. Tom would be willing to quit his job and find a new one in Ohio if that is what Kate wants. The need to make a decision is adding tension to both of their lives. 

This was an excellent entry into this series.

Favorite Quote:
Ribbons of steam rose from our mugs of strong tea, laced with lemon, honey, and a shot of whiskey -- Vivian's all-purpose cure for headache, sore throat, chill, shock, fright, boredom, disappointment, rainy days, and missing out on Tesco's weekly half-price promotion.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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