The author of the British Columbian cozies starring Constable Molly Smith (Among the Departed, 2011, etc.) moves east to Lake Ontario, where a considerably more beset heroine must confront demons without and within.
Toronto journalist Hannah Manning was at the top of her game when she fell victim to an IED in Afghanistan. Now she’s unable to work or drive or even live on her own. Living for the moment with her sister, Joanne and her husband, Jake Stewart, she finds life on J & J Organic Farms, on the island of Prince Edward County, predictable and slow, but still challenging for her and Omar, the name she’s given her disabling headaches. There’s not much diversion within walking distance of the farm, so Hannah is especially eager to befriend Hila Popalzai, a shy Afghan refugee who’s been offered shelter by the farm’s neighbors, Maude and Grant Harrison. And she takes considerable interest in some old papers Joanne has found in the house. Hannah sees in the story of Maggie Macgregor, the widow of a Loyalist sympathizer during the American Revolution, a mirror of her own. Taken in by her late husband’s cousin, Nathanial, Maggie becomes little more than a servant in a household not her own. Hannah’s nagging questions about her new life—is she only imagining the woman’s voice she hears in the root cellar? Will Omar ever quiet down for good?—are abruptly upstaged when Hila disappears and is found dead. Hannah doesn’t know just how instrumental Maggie, dead over 200 years, will be in resolving the mystery.
An absorbing whodunit-cum-flashbacks whose so-so mystery is redeemed by a deft use of historical parallels.