Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The House on Seventh Street, by Karen Vorbeck Williams

Booktrope Editions, ISBN 9781513702, September 2015

Winna Jessup has come home to Grand Junction, Colorado to close up and sell her late father's house. Her father had disappeared in the fall of 1998, but his body wasn't found, at the foot of a cliff that his car had burned at the top of, until the spring of 1999.

And now Winna has come back from her home in New Hampshire, coping with the aftermath of her father's deah, and then his will--which cut her younger sister Chloe out with just a dollar. The girls had never been close to their father, but that he'd been angry enough with Chloe to disinherit her came as a shock.

Chloe still lives nearby; Winna's daughter Emily moved back to Grand Junction when she married. Initially, Winna is on her own in sorting the household goods--which turn out to be almost entirely her grandmother's.

Why Henry Gumman cut Chloe out of his will, and what he was doing in Unaweep Canyon when he died, are mysteries, but they don't seem like urgent ones.

Then strange things start to happen. Winna finds a large and obviously valuable diamond ring among her and Chloe's childhood marbles. Grandmother Juliana had expensive jewelry, but not like this. An old boyfriend, John Hodell, drops back into her life; she finds a recreation of the sisters' childhood bedroom in the attack; her own brakes fail on her way back from John's house to her own.

And as she goes through her grandmother's papers and possessions, she discovers a mystery in Juliana's life that may still be reverberating through the lives of her descendants.

There's an intriguing mystery here, and interesting, engaging characters. Yet some questions are never answered satisfactorily--nor are they left hanging in an interesting way, either. Other answers just don't quite feel complete.

Neither does this feel like the start of a series where these questions might be resolved later, nor is there any indication that it is.

Enjoyable, but don't set your expectations too high. This is probably better thought of as women's fiction than mystery, as we really do get a good, meaty examination of three generations of women in one complicated family.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher.