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Among the Departed by Vicki Delany

“Among the Departed” is a well constructed “traditional village mystery” set in a town called Trafalgar, British Columbia. Delany is a retired systems analyst who now lives in rural Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada.

Delany has created an appealing set of characters intertwined with family and community relationships. The reader gets to know Constable Molly Smith, her mother, Lucky, who runs an adventure travel business, and Smith’s boss, Chief Constable Paul Keller, who is in love with Lucky. Others we get to know well are Smith’s coworkers, Ray Lopez and his teenage daughter, Sergeant John Winters and his art dealer wife, Eliza. These are all engaging, multi-dimensional characters who will be enjoyable to get to know better through the Constable Molly Smith series.

This particular book starts with the disappearance of a small British boy at a camp site near Trafalgar. When the search team finds the boy at the same time they discover human bones that had been washed down the river. Forensics reveal that the body is that of Brian Nowak, a local man who disappeared 15 years before.

Daughter, Nicky, comes home from Vancouver to be with her mother and brother and to attend her Dad’s funeral. Nicky’s life in Vancouver comes under suspicion when she makes a move on Molly’s boyfriend and it becomes clear that she has ties to prostitution and the drug trade in the big city. The mother, Marjorie is understandably stuck in a permanent depression and in a time warp that won’t let her move on. The son, Kyle, takes out his frustration over his Dad’s disappearance by creating strange, but artistically brilliant paintings and demonstrating a fierce resentment of almost everyone.

The solution to the mystery is not hard to figure out if you pay attention to the clues, but it is well handled in the book and I look forward to reading more of the Constable Molly Smith series.

One small quibble is that I discovered four or five typos that should have been caught in the editorial process. They are all things that would be missed with a spell check, but should have been caught by human editors.

The copy I read was provided on behalf of the author and publisher.

Liz Nichols

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