Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Summary from Netgalley:
A mother hanged for murder.
A daughter left to pick up the pieces of their crumbling estate.
Can she clear her family’s name if it means facing her own dark past?
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.
Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.
ARC provided by Macmillan-Tor/Forge via Netgalley for an honest review.
It is hard to believe that this is a debut novel for this author. It is very well done and I look forward to seeing more from this author. This was a very well done atmospheric historical mystery. I would have liked a little less of the romance, but otherwise well done.
Valentine is a very mature and self-reliant character. She had to grow up fast when she lost her mother at the age of six. Her father was not the best at helping her either, but I don’t think he was a totally bad parent, just incapable of helping her much. She keeps to herself, which is not totally a bad thing, but she is very kind to Birdy a simple girl who lives in the woods. It is her connection to Birdy that I really liked about Valentine, most people ignore or chase Birdy away, but Valentine wants to help her and others like her. I also like the fact that at an early age she befriended the son of the town bully and continued to have a friendship with him even when others tried to discourage her.
There is a love triangle in this book, which maybe overshadowed the mystery plot line too much. I liked both of the boys, although I thought Rowan was a bit of a wimp at times. But I think he was in character with the time period too, in that you respected your elders and did what they told you to do with your life. He does become a bit of a rebel in the end though. I liked how he developed the relationship with Valentine, even though he was rich and her poor, he didn’t overwhelm her but took it slow and gentle. There was also a bit of a family feud between their families, which added to the tension. Sam, the childhood friend, was also a good guy, and considering his upbringing was unexpected. He did have a temper though, but was always in control of it. His relationship with Valentine was very sweet and he loved her deeply. He would die for her, and was very much her protector.
The mystery part of this book is what really made it shine. There were some awesome twists and turns that were hard to predict. I did have the person who ended up being the murder on my radar, but as a player in the story not as the murderer. So it was a bit of a surprise when it was revealed. There is a bit of a slow part in the middle of the book, where the romance was the main focus, but once we get back to the mystery the story really takes off and was very hard to put down. Even after the murderer was revealed there were still some unexpected things that happened. The ending was sweet and wonderful and exactly what I wanted to happen to the characters.
A great debut, a great historical mystery with a nice romance thrown in. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries with good twists and turns as well. Looking forward to the next book from this author.