Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Beyond the Page
- ASIN: B07T85Q684
Print Length: 221 pages
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Digging Up History
When a summer intern at the Preservation Society discovers an aged document hidden in the binding of an antique book, Society president Nell Pratt is intrigued by the possibilities: is it a valuable historic document or just a useless scrap of paper? When analysis reveals that it’s a hand-drawn map of one of Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhoods, Nell learns that the area is being excavated for a new real estate development and may hold long-buried secrets from the city’s historic heyday.
Determined to get to the bottom of the map’s origin and what it might tell her about the mysterious plot of land, Nell will have to contend with a construction company owner who disappears, a former Society board member who’s harbored a dark secret her entire life, and a remarkable discovery that may have the dead turning over in their graves . . .
Well, isn’t this a cozy of a different color! The blurb piqued my interest and I always enjoy reading historical tidbits, this one taking place in Philadelphia. Yes, the eighth in the series and my first, although I’d read one other in a different series by the same author.
The protagonist is Nell Pratt, the president of the Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiquities. The society has recently been bequeathed a collection of books from Harriet Featherstone, a long time resident of the city and a former active member. It is from this collection that intern Dylan discovers a map hidden between the old, disintegrated cover and the new cover of a book that starts them on a journey of discovery.
Nell discusses the find with her significant other, James, an FBI agent, who informs her they can actually glean an image and the words from the faded map. When the map appears of historic interest, Nell contacts Marty Terwilliger, a former board member. Marty confesses to a grisly discovery she made decades ago at the location and together they set out to see what, if anything still exists. Across the street, however, a construction project has stalled due to the discovery of hundreds of skeletons that had been buried under a parking lot. Are the two related? Or even of the same time period?
While Nell proceeds with the investigation, bringing into the mystery the police as well as additional historic experts, they discover deeper secrets that turn darker with each new development. I didn’t find Nell fully fleshed as she was probably well developed in previous series entries. She did, however, manage to form more theories, ideas, and arguments for what might have happened than I ever could have imagined.
Two main mysteries to solve, not the least of which is first to determine the event century given the obvious deterioration of the remains. Century resolved, now to investigate deeds and records that could possibly shed some light on who, why, what, and when. The where they’ve got. Not all characters are well developed or engaging.
Interesting possible scenario in the shocking discovery presents thought-provoking visions during an era of extreme turmoil in our country–the city among the forefront of the turbulence. The author, however, repeats the discovered facts numerous times and then proceeds with additional theories. The skeletons are referred to as bodies, but given how old the remains, really couldn’t have much flesh left. Twists are confronted, but not all add significance to the outcome and the conclusion clouds a bit having already been deduced.
I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those with a penchant for early American history and a clean, victim-free cozy.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five of Five Stars
The Author: After collecting too many degrees and exploring careers ranging from art historian to investment banker to professional genealogist, Sheila Connolly began writing in 2001, and has now published over thirty traditional mysteries, including several New York Times bestsellers.
Her series include the Orchard Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), the Museum Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), The County Cork Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books), the Relatively Dead Mysteries (Beyond the Page Press), and beginning in 2018, The Victorian Village Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press.
Her first full-length, standalone ebook, Once She Knew, was published in October 2012.
Connolly has also published a variety of short stories: “Size Matters” appeared in the 2010 Level Best Anthology, Thin Ice; “Called Home,” a short prequel to the Orchard series, was published by Beyond the Page in 2011; and “Dead Letters,” an e-story featuring the main characters from the Museum series, will be published by Berkley Prime Crime in February 2012. Beyond the Page also published “The Rising of the Moon,” and another Level Best anthology includes “Kept in the Dark,” which was nominated for both an Agatha award and an Anthony award for 2013.
She is passionate about genealogy, both American and Irish, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She is also an Irish citizen and owns a cottage in West Cork.
She lives in a too-big Victorian in southeastern Massachusetts with her husband and three cats. Find out more about her at her website, http://www.sheilaconnolly.com