Mary M. (emeraldfire) - , reviewed Stranger in the Looking Glass (Antique Shop Mysteries #1) on
Helpful Score: 1
Maggie Watson is a forty-something widow living on her own in the same cottage in Bennington, Vermont where she had happily raised her family. Conceivably, she is content to continue living in her picturesque little cottage with her cat Snickers for the rest of her days. However, with the death of her husband three years before and the recent departure of her daughter Emily for college - Maggie is suffering pangs of 'Empty Nest Syndrome'. She is also beginning to recognize that she has reached a brand new chapter in the story of her life, and is looking to make some sort of change.
She just wasn't expecting to make that change quite so soon. Maggie is surprised to learn that she has recently inherited some property from her aunt Evelyn. Apparently, her aunt has bequeathed to Maggie a stately nineteenth-century Colonial-style mansion, Sedgwick Manor, as well as the adjacent antique store - Carriage House Antiques - a charming little shop located in the seaside town of Somerset Harbor, Maine. Maggie has always dreamed of owning an antique store and discovering the various different stories that each particular item can tell.
However, she never suspected that some of those stories just might become relevant to her own life. While separating the inventory for the store and going through her aunt's various personal effects, Maggie discovers a photograph of her aunt hidden in the backing of an old mirror. She is astonished by the story apparently being told by this particular photo: because it's an impossible story; one full of mystery, danger and intrigue. Standing beside her aunt in the recent photograph is her Uncle George...a man who died twenty years ago.
Having enlisted the help of the members of the historical society - ladies who all knew Evelyn well - and James Bennett, an historic preservationist and handsome bachelor; Maggie begins her investigation into her aunt's final months. What she subsequently discovers about her Aunt Evelyn, as well as her Uncle George's past is disturbing to her. As her search for clues continues, it quickly becomes abundantly clear to Maggie that she is not the only person looking for answers. Someone desperately wants to know just what Maggie knows...and just how she knows it.
Cryptic messages and warnings are being left inside Sedgwick Manor, personal effects are being rifled through, and a U. S. Marshal arrives in town asking some very unsettling questions. Maggie soon realizes that this mystery is more serious than she first thought - deadly serious. She honestly can't help but wonder if she is ultimately doing the right thing; or should she just forget about everything, sell the property, and escape back to the safety of Vermont. While she believes that this would probably be the most appropriate course of action, Maggie can't forget what her aunt always said: "antiques are filled with stories - secrets just waiting to be discovered."
Maggie finds herself finally understanding what her aunt meant - she definitely wants to satisfy her own curiosity about this particular mystery. Will Maggie be able to make sense of it all before it's too late? And is Somerset Harbor really the best place to start this new chapter in her life?
First of all, let me say that I really enjoyed reading this book. I haven't actually read that many cozy mysteries before, and would like to see where this series will eventually lead. I found the characters to be fairly well-developed and the mystery certainly held my attention all the way through. However, having said that, I have to admit that I became slightly confused by the uneven pacing of the mystery. All in all though, I would definitely give this book a B+!