Three May Keep a Secret
by Susan Van Kirk
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432829681
Date: 19 November 2014
In Susan Van Kirk's debut mystery, Three May Keep a Secret, Grace Kimball, a recently retired teacher, unexpectedly finds herself embroiled in the hunt for the murderer of a friend, Brenda Norris, an abrasive, nosy investigative reporter. Brenda had confided she was hot on the trail of a decades old mystery that would stun the residents of small town Endurance, Illinois, until murder intervenes.
Grace's husband died years ago from a heart attack and she then became an English teacher at the local high school. Now, her friends are determined to involve her in community activities to keep boredom away. Current items include planning for the town's commemorative event. Then the new editor of the local paper asks Grace to do a book review column for the paper. He is also an attractive older man.
Grace runs into Brenda Norris, once a fellow teacher and now a news reporter, at the local sports bar. Brenda tells her about investigations of some decades old cold cases. Brenda is convinced the story will catapult her to national prominence. She gets drunk and the editor agrees to drive her home and return later for his dinner with Grace.
That night, a deliberately set, horrific fire destroys Brenda's home. Firemen rescue her body, but she is dead. They believe the fire was deliberately set. The coroner finds she had been knocked unconscious and left to die.
Many of the town citizens had been students of Grace and as the story develops, they are introduced to the readers.
Van Kirk keeps Grace, TJ, Grace's police friend, and the reader guessing and the pages turning. Van Kirk pits Grace against the murderer leading to an exciting climax. For most readers, the murderer's identity will come as a surprise. The language will not offend nor is there any other offensive material. While some of the information on former students is important, it is almost overdone. Most readers will look forward to Grace's next adventure.