>Review: Among The Departed by Vicki Delaney

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Among the Departed: A Constable Molly Smith Mystery (Constable Molly Smith Novels)Fifteen years ago a young girl by the name of Moonlight Smith went to her best friend Nicky Nowak’s house for a sleepover. Moonlight joined the family for breakfast the following morning and was then picked up by her mother. Shortly after, Mr. Nowak went for a walk.

He was never seen again.

Autumn has arrived on the mountains above Trafalgar, B.C., and the promise of winter is in the air. Constable Molly Smith is cuddled by the fireplace with Adam Tocek of the RCMP when Tocek and his dog Norman are called to a wilderness camping ground to join the search for a little boy who snuck away from his family looking for bears.

The child is found, dirty, terrified, weeping, but unharmed. Then the inquisitive Norman digs up something else: human bones.

The ID isn’t positive, but it is enough to have Sergeant John Winters of the Trafalgar City Police pulling old boxes from the basement to reopen the Brian Nowak investigation. He finds a family shattered beyond recognition by the disappearance of their husband and father. Mrs. Nowak is an empty shell of a woman, dressed in pajamas, never leaving the house. Her son Kyle haunts the streets of Trafalgar at night and spends his days creating beautiful, but highly troubling, art. Nicky Nowak lives in Vancouver and has grown up to be gorgeous, charming, elegant. Yet behind that facade lies a woman whose heart has closed so tightly against human relationships she comes to Trafalgar trailing in her wake a terrifying threat to another innocent family.

As the investigation into the life and disappearance of Brian Nowak grows, old secrets are brought to light and new ones struggle to remain hidden.

Once again, Vicki Delaney has given us a mystery worth the wait. The fifth book in the Constable Molly Smith series, Among the Departed picks up seventeen months after the events in Negative Image that I reviewed last fall.

The discovery of human bones sets off an emotional chain reaction that affects the whole community. The bones are identified as Brian Nowak, a man who disappeared fifteen years ago. The angry son, Kyle, the withdrawn widow, Marjorie, and the devastated daughter, Nicky, begin to cause all sorts of new problems for those around them.

Molly and Nicky are best friends growing up, but the stress of Nowak’s disappearance causes Nicky to run away from home. To support herself, she turns to prostitution and blackmail. Now fifteen years later, she returns for her father’s funeral. Her partner in crime follows her and decides she needs to earn some money while she’s there. She’s not above seducing and blackmailing Molly’s new fiancé, Adam. Or for that matter, anyone else with money.

During the investigation relationships are tested, renewed, or simply discovered. One relationship in particular was so surprising and controversial I was caught completely off guard when it was revealed.

I enjoy getting to know Molly’s character. She’s a cop, but without the attitude. She’s more comfortable in her job than in her personal life. At work, she’s subjected to the malice of some of her male counterparts, but somehow, she manages to remain professional and do her job without going ballistic on them. She’s a much better person than I could be in that situation.

I really need more hours in my day so I can start at the beginning of the series and move forward with the characters. But since I doubt that will happen I’ll have to manage to squeeze in a book here and there until I catch up. Don’t worry, though, if you have to do the same the books work equally well as stand-alone titles.

*Book furnished by NetGalley
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=paperbackdolls-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1590588894&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

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