Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin
If you’re like me and have read the first two books in A. H. Gabhart’s The Hidden Springs Mysteries series, you’ll be excited to know (if you don’t already) that the third book, Murder Is No Accident, has released.
In this book, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane suspects the death of a realtor was not the accident it appears to have been and that someone other than a possible murderer knows what happened. Quite a bit of this story is told from the point of view of Maggie Green, a 15-year-old reluctant witness. From the mystery standpoint, she’s the major character rather than Michael. If this had been a YA, I think I would have appreciated that more.
I like Michael. He’s a smart, laid-back kinda guy who is totally content spending his time fishing at his lake cabin. He doesn’t need much, materially, and definitely doesn’t like the need to investigate murders, not because he’s lazy, but because he despises the violence people commit on one another. He’s also pining to make his lifelong best friend his wife, but fears she’ll reject him.
That said, this was probably my least favorite of the three novels. My favorite was and is the second book, Murder Comes by Mail. In it, we see Michael’s emotions emerge to a greater degree as he’s tested by an unknown serial killer while dealing with his on again-off again romance with Alexandra and his concern for his aunt. In this third book, the emotional level is up as it pertains to his relationship with Alex. I won’t delve into that aspect much or I’ll give out spoilers. Let’s just say, I didn’t find the romance between them as satisfying in this story. About two-thirds of the way through, I wanted to lock them both up in a room and say, “You’re not coming out until you either say ‘I do’ or ‘Goodbye forever’.” I’m suspecting there’s another book coming, but can’t say for sure, so we may see more on the subject.
To be fair, The Hidden Springs Mysteries are not romances or romantic suspense. They are (ta-daa!) small-town, cozy-type mysteries with beguiling, sometimes odd, characters that could be our own family and neighbors … or us. I find Betty Jean to be a moody hoot. Even at that, the culprit could have been less telegraphed.
If you’re looking for a strong who-dun-it, this one probably isn’t it, but for me, it’s the characters and their interactions and emotions that have earned it four Amazon stars.