Maggie Dove is a different kind of mystery story; largely because of the title character herself. She’s a fresh face in this genre – and a welcome one. While I can’t said that I found the book to be a gripping page-turner, I can say that it was enjoyable to read; the first book in a long time that relaxed me as I followed the story’s twists and turns. Maggie is a very real, very human, very relatable storyteller; reading her story is reminiscent of sitting down with your oldest friend and listening to a tale.
Maggie has been a Sunday School teacher for 30 years. She’s a widow and a mother who lost her only child in a terrible accident years earlier. As a result, there is a sadness and a heaviness to her character – her grief is a terrible burden; one that Maggie hasn’t yet been able to figure out how to put down, regardless of her faith. She lives in a small New York town and, as the book opens, is in a somewhat contentious debate with her neighbor over an oak tree. The tree is in Maggie’s yard and is a source of price and admiration for her. But her neighbor – a rather self-centered and manipulative man – is fixated on convincing Maggie to move the tree so that he can have an unobstructed view of the Hudson River. The mystery begins when the man is found dead in Maggie’s yard – right by that same tree.
There never seems to be a serious consideration of Maggie being the culprit, but she is a beloved figure for many in the small town, including a police officer (Peter) who has recently come under suspicion of distributing drugs. Would he have killed the man causing Maggie so much annoyance? In true small town fashion, everyone knows everyone else – and their personal business. When a second body turns up, the pressure is on to figure out who the murderer among them is. Maggie is dead set on defending Peter, to the point of possibly blinding herself to the growing danger she may be in.
The story unfolds somewhat slowly, but author Susan Breen has an enviable knack for ending her chapters leaving the reader wanting to continue.
Susan Breen introduces a charming new series heroine in this poignant and absorbing cozy mystery with a bite. Maggie Dove thinks everyone in her small Westchester County community knows everyone else’s secrets. Then murder comes to town.
When Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove finds her hateful next-door neighbor Marcus Bender lying dead under her beloved oak tree—the one he demanded she cut down—she figures the man dropped dead of a mean heart. But Marcus was murdered, and the prime suspect is a young man Maggie loves like a son. Peter Nelson was the worst of Maggie’s Sunday School students; he was also her late daughter’s fiancé, and he’s been a devoted friend to Maggie in the years since her daughter’s death.
Maggie can’t lose Peter, too. So she sets out to find the real murderer. To do that, she must move past the grief that has immobilized her all these years. She must probe the hidden corners of her little village on the Hudson River. And, when another death strikes even closer to home, Maggie must find the courage to defend the people and the town she loves—even if it kills her.
About The Author – Susan Breen is the author of The Fiction Class, her debut novel that won the Washington Irving Book Award. Her stories and articles have appeared in many magazines, among them The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Compose, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. She teaches at Gotham Writers in Manhattan; is on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference, South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the Women’s National Book Association; and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime. Breen lives in a small village on the Hudson River with her husband, two dogs, and one cat. Her three children are flourishing elsewhere.
Webpage – http://www.susanjbreen.com/about.htm
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