In Deadly Secrets by Terry Odell, Megan rushes back to her hometown of Mapleton, CO when her best friend, Angie, warns her of a sense of impending danger for Rose and Sam Kretzer, the now-elderly couple who reared her from the age of five when her parents died. Arriving in Mapleton, Megan finds Rose and Sam’s grandson, Justin, in residence, remodeling the entire house and hiding a secret. In trying to establish a friendly, adult relationship with the man who used to be her childhood enemy, Megan follows Justin to the pond for his run, but not being acclimated to the altitude, she can’t keep up and waits for him on a bench. However, when Justin returns to the bench, he finds a young couple making out there and assumes Megan has given up and gone home. The next thing we see is the police chief, Gordon Hepler, getting a call that Megan appears to have been attacked but is not alert enough to indicate what happened. When Gordon gets a call at 4am that there has been a murder, a woman with her throat slit, he wonders what is happening to his peaceful town.
Just as Gordon gets his investigation off the ground, another call comes in, that someone has ransacked Rose and Sam’s house. Since the police want to preserve the crime scene, Megan and Justin decide to treat Rose and Sam to a special pre-anniversary holiday at a nice hotel in Denver, complete with champagne, roses, and breakfast in bed. The sparks they set off between them first delight Megan and Sam and then embarrass them when Justin’s grandfather eagerly tells him, “In the morning, don’t call us. We’ll call you!”
As Justin and Megan get to know one another, they begin to share secrets held in tightly. Together they work together to support each other and get to the bottom of the situation that has them all tied up in knots.
This book was a highly enjoyable read, and it has several really admirable points to it. For one thing, I love the way Odell plays with the theme of secrets, which suits the title of the book. We are kept guessing what secrets Rose and Max may be hiding and also what is going on with Justin. Why did he suddenly show up in Mapleton? And is he a good guy or a bad guy? Are his actions on behalf of his grandparents or to their detriment? And why did Angie sense danger for the couple? Besides, what are these hints of World War II and the Holocaust that keep popping up? Could the five cases that have suddenly popped up in the Mapleton Police Department be connected, or has the city developed a crime spree?
Another detail of this book that I really appreciated is the way the book treats the police in a highly positive light. Too many cozy mysteries involve inept cops and amateurs that show them how it’s done. While Deadly Secrets is not exactly a cozy mystery, I still appreciate the strong image of the police that it displays. In this book, no one behaves as a weak victim. Rather, the civilians work together with the police, with all coming off as strong characters.
The format of the book switches back and forth in each chapter between the lives of Megan and Justin and the life of Police Chief Gordon. This format has the potential to distract or get confusing between the two settings, but it works well in this book. It allows for equal coverage of both groups and helps in distinguishing the time line.
One more detail I liked was the creation of the delightful characters of Rose and Sam, in particular the way these two people old enough to have a fully-grown grandson are so romantic together and flirt with each other. The fact that they are not too old to keep their love strong through the ages and even obviously have sex goes against common stereotypes and gives a nice touch.
Steve Marvel does a good job of reading this book, creating convincing voices for each character and sounding assuring in his narration. He creatively gives plenty of emotion to the dialogue but solid descriptions of things in the book.
Odell has written a really good book in Deadly Secrets. I liked it enough that I recommended it to my mother, who goes through books much more slowly than I do, so I recommend only my favorites to her. I give the book five stars.
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