Susan Van Kirk is a local author I can look up to for many reasons.
Her first mystery, Three May Keep a Secret, was a delight to read. Her fictional small town of
Endurance is based on .
I’ve driven through Monmouth many times over the years as it’s on Highway 34
and it was a nice place to stop for ice cream on the way home from Monmouth, Illinois . Iowa
Her fictional Endurance may be quite a bit bigger than my fictional Bishop Hill, but it shares many similar characteristics: a colorful cast of characters, everyone knows each other’s business (past & present), the feeling of a shared heritage, and a connection to the land.
Van Kirk’s protagonist is a fifty-something Grace Kimball, a newly-retired English teacher weighing her options for fulfillment in the next phase of her life. Will it be writing a novel or picking something from the multiple suggestions of her friends. Fate intervenes when the new editor of the local paper asks her to do a column of book reviews. That she can and does say yes to. And then a notorious newspaper reporter dies in a fire leaving a last unfinished story for Grace to tackle. Completing the research for the story will solve a longstanding crime. Trying to sort out the most likely suspect for present-day crimes will not be easy—there are so many unworthy candidates.
Three May Keep a Secret is a classic cozy mystery with an interesting beginning, a well-handled plot that keeps developing and building to the satisfying denouement.
Bonus: there’s room for more action in later books.
I can see why the Monmouth Public Library has a shelf dedicated to local authors.