by Amy M. Reade
The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.
Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are
saying about her mother’s disappearance.
When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.
About The Author:
Amy is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Gothic, traditional, contemporary, and cozy mysteries. A former attorney, who lives in New Jersey with her husband, three kids, a dog named Orly, and two cats. When not writing, you will find her in the kitchen or the laundry room, though she much prefers the kitchen. She loves to cook and share the things she makes.
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Cape Menace is the first in a series of historical mysteries set in Cape May, and before the story starts the author explains how Cape May got its name and of its links with pirates. From that point on, I was hooked.
It’s 1714 and two years have passed since Sarah’s mother, Ruth, disappeared. Then, the whole community was out looking for her, but to no avail, and her disappearance was deemed permanent, probably as a result of a wolf attack. Now, Sarah and her father, the apothecary, have adjusted to life without Ruth, but the mystery of her disappearance is still uppermost in their minds. The lack of visible clues, clothing, shoes, or even limbs, makes Sarah doubt the wolf attack hypothesis.
Sarah continues in her mother’s footsteps, helping her father in house and with his apothecary business, as well as teaching her best friend, Patience, to read. She is curious about a late night visitor, but her father is a closed book, and refuses to discuss the details with her. It is only when her father falls ill and eventually dies that Sarah has to face head-on those very details. Added to that, he pleads with her to find out what happened to her mother too.
Now, orphaned and ever more determined, Sarah sets out to learn the truth about her mother’s disappearance while also taking on her father’s business. She proves to be a worthy successor, and her help is sought by many in the community. Here, the author excels in bringing the story to life with pertinent details as to how illness and injury were handled in those times. From the use of herbs to the letting of blood, from midwifery to slathering honey on the wounds of a drunken lout, Sarah rises to every challenge.
Other historical delights are woven into the story to depict the beliefs and traditions of the period, including the rituals of propriety, unrequited marriage proposals, pirates in the bay, and more …
Cape Menace proved to be a gently-paced story that held my interest. I enjoyed seeing Sarah grow into the young woman her mother would have wanted her to be, into the adept apothecary of whom her father would be so proud. The pace intensified with moments of high intrigue and fear of what might happen to Sarah, as it then slowed so we could appreciate her thoughts and wonderment for the future. The revelation of the fate which befell her mother was deftly delivered, a sublime and unexpected twist.
Overall, this story crosses many genres – it is a coming-of-age story with romantic undertones, layered up with mystery and suspense, and sprinkled with beautiful historical elements. Here’s to the next in the series … 😉