"Calderwood Cove" By Sharon L. Dean: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Deborah Strong (née Madison) is the librarian in her hometown of Shelby, New Hampshire, doing her best to modernize the small facility that was once a church. She was widowed twenty years ago after the tragic death of her husband which also claimed her three-year-old daughter. Recently, though, she and her good friend Rachel Cummings reconnected and became embroiled in a cold case with which they both had personal interest. Just prior to their senior year in high school, almost thirty years ago, the two friends had discovered in an old barn the body of Joseph Wheeler, high school mate and Rachel’s boyfriend, and for decades it was left unsolved. Their desire for closure and determination to finally learn what happened sent them on a perilous search for answers. This Fourth of July both Deborah and Rachel along with Krista Greenleaf have been invited by Brenda Calderwood (née Peterson) to her summer home in Maine for an impromptu reunion. Other than Deborah and Rachel, the four friends hadn’t been in contact since high school, so…Why now? For what purpose?

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Calderwood Cove
Earns 5+/5 Family Crests…Clever & Compelling!

The summer air was salty sweet and Brenda’s summer home was comfortable chic, but the reunion of the four former high-school buddies had a slightly awkward tenor. It was obvious they hadn’t kept up on any milestone events in each other’s lives, but Brenda’s “rules of the house” and bombshell that her husband Gerald was unaware of this gathering was unsettling. Brenda’s explanation was a tale of a trophy wife and a controlling husband who verbally shackles her with thoughts of a life devoid of any financial support should she attempt a divorce. Yet, divorce is not what she wants nor is accepting help from her oldest friends. She has the summer house, her painting, and time spent at Calderwood Cove. Brenda’s inconsistencies is not lost on Deborah.

In the wee hours of the morning Deborah witnesses the cook and her handyman husband leave, and at daybreak, they are nowhere to be found and their cottage has been cleared out. The neighbors, although pleasant, albeit quirky, offer curious thoughts about the couple and about Brenda’s husband and their relationship, but when the police arrive wanting to talk to Brenda, Deborah is extremely concerned. However, it isn’t either of the couple found dead.

Brilliant! Sharon L. Dean has penned an intensely entertaining story that began as a fun time for old friends to reconnect, but soon it turned secretive, sinister, and shocking. Deborah Strong is the most intuitive of the quartet, yet she was surprised how little they knew of each other, then and now, and how some issues of the past the four shared seemed unresolved. The weekend has everyone on edge. Brenda displays some moody and snarky manners, and with the cook and her husband missing, the victim came as a surprise. Although details do emerge about the victim’s business dealings having an air of illegality, some aggressive interactions with neighbors, and personal relationships appearing abusive, the official investigation, which occurs mostly off the page, had trouble nailing down a motive. Deborah tends to ask the right questions, ones I would, of those close to the victim and shares the most curious facts she uncovers with the police, but she, too, maintains suspicions of her friend, the kindly neighbors, and the young red-headed man on the bike. Peril accompanies the arrest in the final chapters, and although the motive had been low on Deborah’s and my list, it was still a shock when all was revealed. However, I’d love to know how other readers felt about Deborah’s decision to keep an important detail to herself. 

Sharon’s writing is always entertaining following day-to-day events, visiting local sites, conversations among the friends, and focusing on the informal search for answers. Her characters are realistic and diverse in age, experience, and temperament which makes for interesting interactions. Her descriptive language illustrates well the coastal environment, the summer storm, and fog as well as including interesting insights into Maine’s history and current issues like Somali immigration. She also included fascinating details about oyster farming, blueberry picking, croquet, and painting. Loved it! It’s a definite contender for my Top Reads for 2022. 

Deborah Strong Mystery

The Barn (2020) KRL News review HERE

The Wicked Bible (2021) KRL News review HERE

Calderwood Cove (2022)

Be a Big Fan of Sharon L. Dean! 

Sharon L. Dean was a professor of English who chose to trade in the academic pen for writing mysteries incorporating Google-worthy historical links. Her three-book Susan Warner series Review here on KRL News & Reviews (Dec. 2018) are standalones and highly recommended: Tour de Trace (2014), Death of a Keynote Speaker (2015), and Cemetery Wine (2016). My suggestion? Read them all! A fun note…it's delightful that in book one she added a lavender streak to her silver locks, then in book two she changes to maroon, and in book three it was copper…I love it!

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To enter to win an ebook copy of Calderwood Cove, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "cove,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 2, 2022. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

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Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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