I was intrigued by the thought of a handwriting expert as the sleuth in a cozy mystery, so I purchased this book for review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.
Dead Letters is really two mysteries in one. It begins with Claudia Rose’s 18-year old niece Monica, who has been invited to join an archeological dig in Egypt, a lifelong dream. The excitement of the trip begins to fizz when she meets Colin Vine, a graduate student working on another dig. Colin, who has broken the hearts of several women on various digs, takes an interest in Monica.
Claudia Rose, a world away, is having a romantic dinner with her husband, when he gets a call from Claudia’s brother Pete. Pete has driven to Tucson, Arizona, for a reunion with some of his college buddies. Pete is being held at a detention center after his arrest for the murder of one of his college classmates following a confrontation in a bar called Dirtbags. Claudia and her husband fly to Tucson to figure out what actually happened.
Claudia insisted on regular contact with Monica during her expedition to Egypt, but Monica’s recent messages are very brief and uninformative. Then Monica can no longer be reached. Finally Pete, out on bond, places a call to the head of Monica’s dig and discovers his daughter is missing.
Claudia flies to Egypt in search of Monica, then tracks her to Gibraltar and ultimately the UK, after discovering her new boyfriend and terrorists are involved in her abduction.
So the author has created two separate storylines which amp up the tension in a step-wise fashion, forcing the reader to keep on reading! The story at first is somewhat slow-paced, and it took me a while to warm up to the characters, particularly since I hadn’t read any of the previous Claudia Rose mysteries. But the action really picks up with the search for Monica, spanning so many miles and different places, and the characters become very real and immediate. The author has done her research and each place Claudia visits is well-described and colorful. I think I need to visit Gibraltar!
Claudia’s handwriting expertise is brought in a few times – at first it seemed that this was forced, to keep to the fact that she was, in fact, and expert in this field, and not just a detective. Later it became a more natural part of the story.
I enjoyed the read and will certainly sample some of the earlier books in the series.
About the author ( Amazon)
Sheila Lowe writes stories of psychological suspense that put ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances. Like her fictional character Claudia Rose in the award-winning Forensic Handwriting series, Sheila is a real-life forensic handwriting expert who testifies in court cases. She also writes the Beyond the Veil paranormal suspense series and nonfiction books about handwriting and personality.
You can find Sheila Lowe on:
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Twitter – @sheila_lowe