A MOUNTAIN OF MYSTERY
by Carole Jefferson
Guideposts Books and Inspirational Media
HB, 2015, 275 pages
In the Colorado town of Silver Peak, Sadie Speers runs an antique shop, which brings her in contact with many different types of people and stories. When Sadie’s high school sweetheart returns to Silver Peak, he shows her an old wedding gown he found in the attic. There is a bullet hole in the bodice, and a gun was left in the dress box. Sadie wonders whether this dress belonged to her great aunt Rachel Wright, who became a local legend after she ran away from an arranged marriage with Wallace Marley.
Rachel completely disappeared, and everyone believed she died near the local mine; some people even accused her of stealing valuable stocks from the Marleys before fleeing the wedding. Even now, the Wrights and Marleys don’t get along, and the feud begins to heat up again with the emergence of the mysterious wedding dress, as the Marleys believe it will lead them to their lost stocks.
Around the same time, a woman named Laura appears in Silver Peak claiming she is the daughter of Rachel, and therefore Sadie’s cousin. Laura is shrouded in mystery. She is jumpy and somewhat fearful her fiancé may have followed her to the town. While Sadie investigates the dress and her family’s history, she must also find out the truth of Laura’s heritage, as well as work out her feelings regarding the return of her old flame Edwin, all the while evading those who want to acquire the dress for the treasure it may possibly conceal.
This book tended not to follow the famous “show, don’t tell” writing mantra. There are frequent descriptions of not only the characters’ physical traits, but sometimes even their clothes are described. Moreover, the narrative is often slowed down by insignificant names and conversations that don’t significantly move the plot forward. The author was attempting to create a realistic feeling, but it became overwhelming and annoying to hear continually about the back stories of secondary characters. Sadie often seemed superficially good and polite, feeling guilty about the smallest of her mistakes. She is a good role model, but her near-perfection is hardly realistic. Overall, the plot had merit but the writing style could have been much stronger.
I would give this book two stars out of five; it was decent, and I can understand why some people would enjoy it, but it certainly was not a book you could not put down. I appreciate that there was no gore or violence, two things commonly linked to fictional mysteries, and it is a book appropriate for all ages to read and enjoy. Moreover, many biblical principles, and even passages, were woven into the narrative, which is inspiring to other Christians, but could be viewed as over-done by non-Christians.
This book is appropriate for all ages, though the plot and characters may not engage some children and young adults; since a bulk of the characters are middle-aged and older, younger generations may struggle to connect to some of the issues and instances presented within the book. People who enjoy non-gory mysteries and don’t mind the simple and descriptive writing style utilized will find this an engaging story.
Reviewer: Kendra Smalley is a writing student at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.