... from an author with a rare talent for writing true Literary Fiction.
It's a fascinating cozy mystery, but Summer Shadows is also written to pull the reader inside the struggles of a new family that is formed through tragedy. The protagonist is Julia, whose life is suddenly turned inside-out by a series of losses: Her job, her boyfriend - and worst of all, her beloved sister and brother-in-law.
Julia is entrusted with raising her sister's three orphaned children, and she moves her new family to a charming New Hampshire town, trying desperately to hold everything - and everyone - together. Coping with her own grief and confusion while caring for her shattered niece and nephews, Julia's life is further complicated by her eccentric (but wholly lovable) new neighbors, and the handsome police officer who lives close by - and by the house down the street, where a young artist was brutally murdered.
Everyone says that the murder was solved, but Julia disagrees. She's going to figure out what really happened. And the killer doesn't want her to do that.
The plot is excellent, well-defined, and the resolution had me chewing on my nails. It was seriously difficult to put the book aside, because Traynor writes like a river flows. But the character development is no doubt the most memorable aspect of Summer Shadows. I found myself so involved in rooting for this little family - so taken in by Julia's determination that they would not only survive, but live happily again - that the ending brought me to tears. Lots of them.