Friday, December 23, 2016

Susan Van Kirk—Monmouth Author

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 Monmouth, Illinois. 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 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.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for both the reviews on Amazon and on GoodReads. I had no idea your blog post was here, and I am so impressed. I appreciate your kind words, and I'm glad you liked my mystery!