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5 Star Review: Storyteller, Author Regina Clarke has delivered a mystery that exceeded my inner sleuth expectations. Right from the start ‘Hidden In Stone’ drew me into the story, when Honoria Quinn (Ria) received an unexpected inheritance (house and land valued at 700,000) from an aunt she never heard of in upstate New York, far away from her London lifestyle and her amateur archaeology adventures.
Author Regina Clarke weaves a story that kept me in suspense and turning the pages. Small town life, quirky characters that exceeded those in ‘Funny Farm’ with Chevy Chase, and a mystery that surpasses Agatha Christie.
There is much for Ria to explore inside the Harriet Anna Bellthorpe estate and in the surrounding woods, where she finds a dead body. A local golden retriever becomes an unexpected friend as Ria is determined to unravel her aunt’s many secrets.
I found Harriet’s Journal very interesting and the dense woods surrounding the Bellthorpe property worth Ria’s exploration, so let me share this quote from Chapter IV.
The woods were surrounded by the town of Shokan Falls. With an uneasy feeling even so, Ria stepped forward, hoping wherever she was headed would be the shortest route out.
It was then over the rising wind that she heard an ear-piercing screeching sound, like metal dragged across metal. It reverberated through the trees and raised the hairs on her neck. The next moment there came a wailing as something crashed through the woods toward her. The flickering flash had reappeared.
Ria spun around and started running away from the sound, feeling the whiplash of branches as she raced on, still unable to see more than ten feet ahead but not caring. Whatever was there, she didn’t want to meet up with it, or let it find her. The storm broke and released a downpour that obscured her sight even more. Her shoes could hardly grab purchase on the wet leaves that covered the woodland floor and she fell once, hitting her elbow as she tried to stop her fall.
Unable to catch her breath, she finally had to stop running. She stayed very still. She listened. Nothing. The rain fell softly now. The light was brightening. The storm had passed.
Ria still had no idea where she was. Something had been after her. She’d swear to it.
The sound of a bell ringing cut through her thoughts.
The church! Had she run a mile in the right direction? By what grace had that happened? Pushing through the bushes and more tree branches, a few moments later she was standing in a cemetery, and the bells were sounding the hour of four o’clock. That didn’t seem possible. It felt as if she had been in the woods forever.
“Good lord, Ria, what the devil has happened to you?”
It was Sam. She almost ran into his arms in relief as he crossed through the gravestones toward her, but managed to restrain herself.
“Got caught in the rain,” she said.
“I see. And apparently tangled with a bear by the look of you. Couldn’t wait for my company, I take it.”
“I’m fine. I could do with a lift to my car. It’s over on Bethel Avenue.”
“Of course it is,” he said, grinning. “I think I can manage that. I can loan you a first-aid kit, too, and a mirror, if you like.”
“The ride will do. Thank you,” she said, striding off toward the street.
“Uh, my truck’s over here,” he said, pointing to the west wall of the cemetery. “I was just putting some new oleander plants in the ground for the minister, but they’ll keep.”
Ria wanted to ask why, since he was a lawyer, he was doing the gardening for the church. But suddenly she couldn’t be bothered. She’d let go of her insatiable and inconvenient and sometimes exhausting curiosity for once. Instead, she got in the truck and did her best to appear relaxed, a state she knew she would not actually even begin to attain until she was back home sitting with a glass of pinot noir and watching an old sci-fi movie. And not thinking about anything!
With Aunt Harriet’s journal, secrets to unearth, and murder to solve, I invite you to enjoy this well-crafted mystery that begins the ‘Ria Quinn Mysteries’ series. Next in the series is ‘Messenger Out Of Time’.
Review by Theodocia McLean (Book Marketing Global Network).
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths
Message From Author: Brenda Clarke (no relation) does most of my book covers and lives in New South Wales, Australia. They just went through those fires. Anyway, she is a grand digital artist with pages on Flickr where I first encountered her four years ago. So, I wanted just the words “Cover artist: Brenda Clarke”.