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by Iona Whishaw
Touchwood, September 2018
384 pages
ISBN: 177151289X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lane Winslow has a knack for finding trouble, it seems. She is out on an innocent fishing trip with her neighbor and the neighbor's young sons when she spots an injured man, barely alive, in a drifting rowboat. She and her friends rush him to a hospital. Unfortunately, the young man dies of a gunshot wound, leading Lane and Inspector Darling into a murder investigation.

At first, the young man is believed to be the son of Vanessa Castle, who has reported Carl Castle, 20, missing. Although the dead man turns out to be someone else, Lane is still drawn to the mysterious and aloof Vanessa, who runs a chicken farm on her own, now that her son is missing. The more Lane tries to find out about the woman, the more Vanessa pulls away, obviously hiding a secret.

King's Cove and surrounding villages are also dealing with a thief—someone is coming into their homes and stealing antiques and other priceless treasures. Lane is drawn into those crimes as well.

In the meantime, Lane, a former wartime British spy who has been living in Canada for a year, struggles to determine her future. Does she want to continue her romantic relationship with Darling, which seems to be moving toward marriage? Or, badly hurt in a previous relationship, does she prefer complete independence?

The fifth book in the series sees the relationships between the characters and their stories grow fuller. Constable Ames, who is Darling's right-hand man, has his own relationship problems with a girlfriend who is pressuring him to marry. It's these relationships that make this book. The bad guy is obvious from the start, so the mystery itself suffers a bit.

The story, set in 1947, is also interesting for showing divisions within these small communities—the town is not always accepting of immigrants, such as Lorenzo, who runs the local Italian restaurant, or Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany, a big subplot in this story. Author Iona Whishaw doesn't shy away from tackling historical topics that often resonate today, and these details make for a thought-provoking series that sets it apart from many cozies.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, December 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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