Thursday, September 08, 2016

Suspense and Sleuthing in SHADOWS ON A MORNING IN MAINE, Lea Wait

The latest in the "Antique Print" mysteries from Maine author Lea Wait makes its appearance on September 9, and it's a great way to welcome the new season! Maggie Summer, a dealer in antique prints, has just made the big changes she's struggled toward over the course of the earlier books -- taking a sabbatical from teaching in New Jersey, moving to Maine, being engaged to Will Brewer, and approved to finally adopt a daughter (as a single mom). But as the title SHADOWS ON A MORNING IN MAINE hints, none of this will come easily -- and there's risk and danger ahead.

Wait writes at her strongest and best in this engrossing page-turner, threatening Maggie's dreamed-of life (and even her safety) with three forceful currents of suspense: Now that an adoption requires the child's consent, the social workers' positive opinion, plus the parent's fitness for the challenge, will Maggie be able to persuade the wounded and defensive nine-year-old Brook that this single-parent-with strings household is where Brook can be happy in a "forever" home? Second, now that her first priority is (she hopes) her new daughter, can Maggie still be the partner that Will needs and wants (and what's up with the secret from his past that he finally reveals)? And third -- most vital for Wait's skillful answer to the burning question of this genre, why would Maggie risk her life sleuthing -- if someone in the area is deliberately killing seals, the animals that represent "home" to young Brook, can Maggie stop the destruction before her almost-daughter hears about it and refuses Maggie's affection?
By adopting a nine-year-old, a child adoption agencies classified as "older," she's missed the fun of decorating a nursery or toddler's room.

But Brook still had plenty of growing up to do.

Maggie stared at the seal prints she'd liked so much. She'd wait to show them to Brook until she was sure Waymouth's seal killer had been caught. Brook didn't need to be reminded of what she'd seen at the high-tide mark.
Of course, there's also the problem of this vulnerable girl discovering that Maggie herself has been an amateur sleuth around other deaths in the community. Never has the investigation habit looked like such a risky one!

As Wait ties together all the issues confronting Maggie and her growing "family of choice" (including Will's Aunt Nettie), she also shows the choices that lead to both solving the crime and working out the dilemmas of love and community -- with quintessential Maine flavor. There's plenty of traditional "mystery" involved to keep the pages flying, and, most of all, there's a whole family work of commitment and affection to pull together.

Readers of earlier books in this series (this is number 8) will especially appreciate Maggie's efforts and achievements -- but you can jump right into this one and enjoy an exciting adventure, and then catch up on some of the others when you have time. There's also the allure of peeking into Wait's own life a little -- explore her website and discover her deep and extensive personal connection to adopting a daughter who needs a committed mom. From Perseverance Press, with a classic Maine cover as well. Happy reading!

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