|Sue Henry: The Serpents Trail|
New American Library (Hardcover), ISBN 0451211227
Sue Henry, Anthony and Macavity award-winning author of the Jessie Arnold Alaska series, leads off a new series with The Serpent's Trail. Maxie McNabb and Stretch, the heroes of this book, first appeared in Dead North, also of the Alaska books. At the urging of many of her fans, Henry gives them center stage.
A gypsy at heart, 63-year-old Maxie locks up her Alaskan home; loads her possessions and her mini-dachshund, Stretch, into her Winnebago; and heads toward the lower 48 for a final visit with her best friend, Sarah Nunamaker, who faces the end of her life.
Arriving at Sarah's house just in time to thwart an intruder, Maxie leaves that scene to visit her friend in the hospital and hear a deathbed clue. Sarah puts Maxie in charge of her estate and directs her to search the house for clues to the intruder's identity.
The two shared a secret love of hidden compartments and puzzles. Maxie built a secret space in her Winnebago where she stashes important papers and her shotgun. Now she searches Sarah's house for similar hiding places, then deciphers the clues to discover who invaded into Sarah's house and who might have stolen valuable time from her friend's already too short life. To Maxie's surprise, she discovers Sarah lived a secret life. How could her best friend live a lie for so many decades?
Along the way, Maxie reunites with a college sweetheart, who once loved Sarah more than Maxie. Maxie stares death in the face when someone attempts to run the car off of the road, and ultimately she solves the mystery, barely living to tell about it.
I'm a sucker for a strong first line and Henry found one I adore: "A partially open door always has a question in it." And of course, avid mystery readers must step across the threshold and see what lies behind that opened door.
A little long on details and short on plot, but Henry crafts an endearing character and her doggie companion. She gives an accurate look at RV life, older age and lifelong friendships. Her mystery twists and slithers along, enticing readers to follow The Serpent's Trail.
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