Murder at Barclay Meadow
by Wendy Sand Eckel
Review by Gayle Surrette
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250058607
Date: 28 July 2015 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Rosalie Hart is now separated from her husband. She caught him in an affair and they're in the process of getting divorced. He's living in their house with his girlfriend and Rosalie has moved to Maryland's Eastern Shore to live in a house she inherited from her aunt Charlotte. Her daughter Annie had just started college and it seemed like a good idea.
Not long after Rosalie moves in she finds a body of a young woman washed up in the reeds at the edge of her property where it abuts the river. Rosalie is naturally upset and takes the death of such a young woman hard since her daughter, Annie, is so far away and on her own. When the police close the case with the report that Megan, the name of the young woman, committed suicide, Rosalie just can't accept it. Not only that she can't stop asking questions because, to her, things just don't add up.
As Rosalie asks questions, she upsets the powers that be and soon she's being threatened -- overtly and even more upsetting, covertly. She's alone, a long ways away from the nearest town, and she's a stranger. The community is very tight-knit and she's from away.
Rosalie tries to fit in with the locals, but it's hard to break in when so many people from across the bridge give up and leave. She has the help of Tyler Wells the young man who farmed her aunt's land. But he's only there during the daylight hours and the weird stuff happens at night.
This is a nice cozy with Rosalie and a few people she meets at a local college's evening class, trying to pool their resources and solve the crime of who killed Megan. It's a diverse group and makes for some interesting interactions. And each of them has a backstory that could be interesting if this story developed a sequel.
The threats are real and scary. On the other hand, Rosalie is a person who has been traumatized by learning that her life wasn't as safe and secure as she thought it was. Her marriage that she thought was solid as a rock -- fragmented in front of her. Her husband is trying to place half the blame on her, or at least the half that means his life isn't as pleasant with the new girlfriend as it was with Rosalie catering to his needs before her own. Annie wants her parents to get back together because having to visit two different houses during holidays and school breaks is difficult when all her friends are living around one of the houses and it's not Rosalie's new home.
Adding a potential murder to the mix of Rosalie's life as it is now, along with the threats, and Rosalie seems, to this reader at least, to be in shock and not thinking straight. Thus the story is an underpinning of emotional upheaval that makes Rosalie's actions, while sometimes inexplicable at least understandable.
Once I started reading, even though I got exasperated with Rosalie and her whining about her ex-husband and how much she still loved him, how she had to keep Annie happy no matter what, and that Rosalie's wants and needs came last -- I just couldn't put the story down.
While it might not be for everyone, it is worth a try. Rosalie does grow and mature and finds her inner strength to stand up for herself. The group of people she meets are interesting and quirky. This is a fun read especially if you've been to the Maryland's Eastern Shore.