Small Town Secrets Revealed Among the Departed
There are so many more secrets in big cities, which is what makes the ones uncovered in small towns all the more delicious. In places where murder is an everyday occurrence, finding a dead body in the woods is not such a big deal to the general populace. Put that body in the woods of a little village somewhere east of Nowhere and it becomes a big story.
So it is in Trafalgar, BC. Trafalgar attracts tourists, for it is nestled in the mountains of British Columbia, but the town is small and “everyone knows each other.” Trafalgar is also the setting for a series of mysteries featuring Constable Molly Smith, written by Vicki Delany. In Among the Departed Delany has conjured up an attractive town populated with interesting characters, most of whom would be welcome company at any social gathering. Of course, there are a few residents…
One night, a family on a camping vacation loses one of its members—the five-year-old son was sent to time-out but decided to go hunting for bears, instead. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, so of course the little boy quickly gets lost. Searchers are called in and the boy is quickly found, but a Mountie’s dog finds something else: human bones. Based on the year a coin found near the bones was minted, police quickly surmise who they may have been.
Once the departed’s identity is discovered, police must determine how the remains ended up so close to home (since the dead man was believed to have abandoned his family and taken off for parts unknown), and if a crime had actually been committed. Spicing up the tale are love stories (including Constable Smith’s and her widowed mother’s), artists, prostitutes, a nasty pimp, a devastated family, and a group of teenage girls who might be better off without the Internet.
Among the Departed is a “traditional village mystery,” and its solution challenges the reader. However, it would have benefitted from more careful editing; the number of errors is alarming (standards dictate that readers be advised when a book has more than six typos and grammatical errors). Despite this problem, it is an engaging, enjoyable story perfect for a rainy day or, better still, a day at the beach.