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From New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village Mystery, which finds Kate Hamilton discovering a long-dead body in a hidden staircase. Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming toget From New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village Mystery, which finds Kate Hamilton discovering a long-dead body in a hidden staircase. Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming together. Kate's first goal is to renovate the Barton Mansion on the outskirts of town. Luckily, it's been well maintained in the century since the wealthy Henry Barton lived and died there. The only substantial change she's planning is to update the original kitchen so that it can be used to cater events in the building. But when the contractor gets started, he discovers a hidden staircase that had been walled in years earlier. And as Kate's luck would have it, in the stairwell is a body. After her initial shock wears off, Kate is relieved when the autopsy reveals that the man had died around 1880. Unfortunately, it also reveals that his was not a natural death—he was murdered. And serious questions remain: who was he and what was he doing there? Kate begins a hunt to identify the man and figure out what he was doing at the Barton Mansion. But when a second body is found—this time from the present day—Kate realizes that real dangers lie in digging up the past...


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From New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village Mystery, which finds Kate Hamilton discovering a long-dead body in a hidden staircase. Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming toget From New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village Mystery, which finds Kate Hamilton discovering a long-dead body in a hidden staircase. Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming together. Kate's first goal is to renovate the Barton Mansion on the outskirts of town. Luckily, it's been well maintained in the century since the wealthy Henry Barton lived and died there. The only substantial change she's planning is to update the original kitchen so that it can be used to cater events in the building. But when the contractor gets started, he discovers a hidden staircase that had been walled in years earlier. And as Kate's luck would have it, in the stairwell is a body. After her initial shock wears off, Kate is relieved when the autopsy reveals that the man had died around 1880. Unfortunately, it also reveals that his was not a natural death—he was murdered. And serious questions remain: who was he and what was he doing there? Kate begins a hunt to identify the man and figure out what he was doing at the Barton Mansion. But when a second body is found—this time from the present day—Kate realizes that real dangers lie in digging up the past...

30 review for The Secret Staircase

  1. 5 out of 5

    PamG

    The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly brings together a dead body, historic preservation, and several mysteries about the former inhabitants of a home built in the 1800’s. Kate Hamilton’s renovation experience is with modern institutions in the hospitality industry, but her childhood friend Lisbeth Scott asks her to help revitalize her home town, which has lost its industry and is fading fast. As part of the effort to convert the fictional town of Asheboro, Maryland to its Victorian villag The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly brings together a dead body, historic preservation, and several mysteries about the former inhabitants of a home built in the 1800’s. Kate Hamilton’s renovation experience is with modern institutions in the hospitality industry, but her childhood friend Lisbeth Scott asks her to help revitalize her home town, which has lost its industry and is fading fast. As part of the effort to convert the fictional town of Asheboro, Maryland to its Victorian village roots, the first goal is to renovate the Barton Mansion. A hidden staircase is found behind a wall, and at its foot is a body. Did the individual fall or was it murder? Kate is a likeable character who wants to do what is right for her hometown. She makes a lot of mental lists, and occasionally, she writes them down. The reader gets to see into her thoughts with the first person point of view. However, to me, she seemed disorganized and unsystematic; inconsistent with her professional experience. Most of the other characters are pleasant, but there isn’t a lot of depth except for Carroll, Morgan, and Bethany Wallace. The author does a good job of world-building. I was able to easily visualize the setting. The small town atmosphere came through. The plot is straightforward and somewhat predictable, but the story is interesting and kept me engaged. Unraveling the mysteries of the house and its inhabitants was twisty and enjoyable. The ending wrapped things up nicely and set the stage for book four. Overall, this book was an entertaining and steadily paced cozy mystery. What will Kate and Carroll uncover about the home’s original owners, Henry and Mary Barton? Did they marry for convenience or love? Did they have children? What happened to Mary? While there is information on Henry in the local newspaper of their era, there is scant information on Mary. Who is the dead man behind the wall and how did he die? When and why did he die? Will the preservation and renovation work on the house even be allowed to continue? This is the third book in the Victorian Village Mysteries series and worked fine as a standalone novel, but reading the books in order would likely provide additional character depth. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Readers that enjoy cozy mysteries and history will likely enjoy this series. St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books and Sheila Connolly provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for August 24, 2021. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kerrin P

    ***Now Available*** The Secret Staircase is the third book of the Cozy Series called the Victorian Village Mysteries. The premise of the series is that Kate Hamilton has gone back to her small hometown of Asheboro, Maryland to help revitalize it as a tourist attraction. The plans are to recreate it as the Victorian village it once was. Years ago, Asheboro was gifted an old mansion outside of town by Henry Barton. This is Kate’s first major renovation project and she wants to focus on restoring th ***Now Available*** The Secret Staircase is the third book of the Cozy Series called the Victorian Village Mysteries. The premise of the series is that Kate Hamilton has gone back to her small hometown of Asheboro, Maryland to help revitalize it as a tourist attraction. The plans are to recreate it as the Victorian village it once was. Years ago, Asheboro was gifted an old mansion outside of town by Henry Barton. This is Kate’s first major renovation project and she wants to focus on restoring the kitchen. While she is enthusiastic, Kate has no background in historic preservation. She is constantly making mental notes of who to assign a task to since she can’t handle it herself. When a contractor is inspecting the property, he realizes there is a hollow space behind one of the kitchen walls. He drills a tiny hole and inserts a camera. There he discovers not only a hidden staircase but also a mummified body. Soon thereafter, a sub-contractor finds some hidden diaries that shed light on who the victim was and why he was murdered. Before too long, there is another murder at the mansion. There is a suspicion that this modern-day murder was the result of a century-old Hatfield-McCoy-type feud between two families in the county. I didn’t find the story about the first body to be plausible since naturally mummified bodies are very rare. This victim died in an open staircase. Then someone built a lathe and plaster kitchen wall to entomb the corpse. There would have been plenty of oxygen during the construction to keep it from mummifying. In the current timeline, there is too little character development to understand the suspected feud between the families or how the two deaths might be related. I did enjoy the parts of the story involving historical research. Kate and her assistant Carroll diligently try to find out more about Henry Barton and his wife through newspaper articles and genealogy research. The newly discovered diaries help tremendously. Kate wants the home to become a museum as well as a learning center with children’s activities. 3-Stars. This novel will be published posthumously on August 21, 2021. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my NetGalley widget in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    I wish to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an early copy of this book in return for an honest review. This is Book 3 in the Victorian Mystery series. Not having read the others, I may have missed out on some character development and events leading up to the present situation. The plot was intriguing, but the story was very slow-paced and contained unnecessary fillers and details. I am not a fan of cozy mysteries. However, the book avoids gory details and explicit sex. Any violence an I wish to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an early copy of this book in return for an honest review. This is Book 3 in the Victorian Mystery series. Not having read the others, I may have missed out on some character development and events leading up to the present situation. The plot was intriguing, but the story was very slow-paced and contained unnecessary fillers and details. I am not a fan of cozy mysteries. However, the book avoids gory details and explicit sex. Any violence and murders occur off the pages, making the story a comfortable read for many to puzzle over. The description of the mansion was well done and easy to visualize, but there was too much discussion of its needed renovations to keep me engaged. The protagonist, Kate Hamilton, was annoying at first. She had taken on the task of returning to her hometown, Asheboro, Maryland, to revitalize the fading town by turning it into a Victorian village. The mansion belonged to a wealthy factory owner, Henry Barton, and went into decline after the death of his wife, Mary, and the closing of his business. She has obtained a sizeable grant from Mid-Atlantic Power and has started to restore Barton Manor to its former glory. Kate has many self-doubts about the project, is disorganized, and expresses many concerns about her ability to complete the work sufficiently. Once she hires a contractor who enjoys the challenge of restoring the manor to its original shape and plumbers and an electrician, it looks like the renovations will proceed. This is delayed when a mummified body of an unknown individual is discovered behind a walled-in room containing a stairwell. The police begin an investigation, and we learn that the man died in 1880 and was murdered. With friends and helpers, Kate begins to investigate the personal history of Henry Barton and his wife to add their story of life in the home as a point of interest for future visitors. This leads to tracing the family tree with some surprising twists. Kate fears that finding the ancient body within the walls may deter future visitors and grants. This becomes a major concern when a present worker is found dead after falling down the stairs. Was he pushed? This leads to more police investigations. At this point, with two possible murders on-site and many suspects, Kate seems rejuvenated by her determination to help solve both mysteries and carry on with the project to restore the mansion and the downtown businesses.

  4. 4 out of 5

    CYIReadBooks (Claire)

    Kate Hamilton is tasked with restoring the town of Ashboro, MD to its original splendor. To achieve this goal, Kate recruits the help of her friend Carroll Peterson. Carroll is focusing on library studies so researching nineteenth-century documents would be the perfect fit for the restoration project. The first undertaking of the restoration project is the Barton mansion. The mansion had been a simple farmhouse in the beginning, but Henry Barton turned it into an impressive and splendid mansion w Kate Hamilton is tasked with restoring the town of Ashboro, MD to its original splendor. To achieve this goal, Kate recruits the help of her friend Carroll Peterson. Carroll is focusing on library studies so researching nineteenth-century documents would be the perfect fit for the restoration project. The first undertaking of the restoration project is the Barton mansion. The mansion had been a simple farmhouse in the beginning, but Henry Barton turned it into an impressive and splendid mansion with money he earned. With funding secured. Kate begins vetting potential contractors and finds an interested party, Morgan Wheeler. Excited with this news, Kate shows Morgan the layout of the building — particularly the kitchen. To both Kate’s and Morgan’s surprise, Morgan discovers a secret staircase and even a bigger surprise is the discovery of a dead body in that staircase. That dead body turns out to be a man who died in 1880, but not of natural causes. Now its up to Kate and Carroll to unearth the secrets and mysteries of the Barton family. And when a present day dead body is found, the search for secrets and answers become urgent and pressing. The Secret Staircase is a very slow read. Slow primarily because there was a lot of background data on how the restoration project came to be and the obstacles that the project faced. There were “breadcrumbs” here and there to keep the story moving, but I would have preferred more suspense and thrills. Being that The Secret Staircase is the third installment of the Victorian Village series, I probably missed a lot of the character development. Needless to say, however, I did get a feel for the major players in the novel. The plot is straightforward without much twists and turns. It’s a simple discovery and piecing of information to determine the who, what, when, where, and why. Three pleasing stars. I received a digital ARC from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    BonnieM☂️

    I have enjoyed all of her series. The Secret Staircase was very good. Although it was the 3rd in the series I thought it stood out by itself. The book kept the reader in suspense with all the twists and turns trying to figure out whodunnit. I liked all the characters. The ending once all fell into place left you wanting the story to continue. I would recommend it to any of my friends. I will miss her. Thank you NetGallery, St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books for this ARC. I have enjoyed all of her series. The Secret Staircase was very good. Although it was the 3rd in the series I thought it stood out by itself. The book kept the reader in suspense with all the twists and turns trying to figure out whodunnit. I liked all the characters. The ending once all fell into place left you wanting the story to continue. I would recommend it to any of my friends. I will miss her. Thank you NetGallery, St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books for this ARC.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *3.5 stars rounded up. This is the third and perhaps final book in Sheila Connolly's Victorian Village Mysteries series as Ms Connolly passed away on April 20, 2020. I read all three of these mysteries in a row and can honestly say each one was better than the one preceding it. The continuing plot has been that Kate Hamilton has returned to her hometown of Asheboro, MD, and is working with board members of the Asheboro Revitalization Project to save the town from a slow death. The centerpiece of *3.5 stars rounded up. This is the third and perhaps final book in Sheila Connolly's Victorian Village Mysteries series as Ms Connolly passed away on April 20, 2020. I read all three of these mysteries in a row and can honestly say each one was better than the one preceding it. The continuing plot has been that Kate Hamilton has returned to her hometown of Asheboro, MD, and is working with board members of the Asheboro Revitalization Project to save the town from a slow death. The centerpiece of that project has been the Victorian mansion of the late Henry Barton and in this latest episode, the characters learn a lot more about the family history. Fascinating! I enjoyed that part of the story thoroughly. The book ends on a very happy and positive note so if that has to be the last we see of Kate Hamilton and friends, so be it. I enjoyed getting to know them all in the pages of this charming cozy mystery. If you are interested in this series, I would recommend reading the three books in order, since they do build on the one before. I received an arc of this mystery from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am grateful for the opportunity. The title attracted me when I was offered a widget, reminding me of the title of a Nancy Drew mystery I loved as a girl: The Hidden Staircase. How could I resist? :-)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Rogers

    Series: Victorian Village Mysteries #3 Publication Date: 8/24/21 Period: Contemporary Maryland Number of Pages: 304 Since the last book, things are moving right along in the tiny Maryland village of Asheboro. After the sizable donation from Mid-Atlantic Power, Kate and her board have been able to start work on restoring Henry Barton’s shovel factory and have even begun planning for the restoration of the Barton’s Victorian mansion. If all continue to move forward, they should be able to begin work o Series: Victorian Village Mysteries #3 Publication Date: 8/24/21 Period: Contemporary Maryland Number of Pages: 304 Since the last book, things are moving right along in the tiny Maryland village of Asheboro. After the sizable donation from Mid-Atlantic Power, Kate and her board have been able to start work on restoring Henry Barton’s shovel factory and have even begun planning for the restoration of the Barton’s Victorian mansion. If all continue to move forward, they should be able to begin work on Main Street before too long. Kate and the town’s, dream of creating an authentic Victorian Village – complete with downtown area, mansion, and factory will save the town from totally disappearing. So much is riding on the success of this project, and then … they find a body hidden in a closed-up stairwell. Why is the 100-year-old body in the stairwell? What happened to the man? Was he murdered? Did he fall down the stairs and die? Why would anyone wall him in? Since the house has been closed up for over a hundred years, they’ll probably never know the answer. But when another body is found – a very recent death – also having fallen down a stairway – well – things get curioser and curioser. Kate vacillates between feeling positive about the project and apprehensive about it. Has she bitten off more than she can chew? The publicity around finding not one, but two dead bodies at the Victorian mansion could very well keep donors from contributing to the project, so Kate, Josh, and Carroll know they have to pull out all of the stops to learn the personal history of the reclusive Henry and Mary Barton. Learning that may help them solve the mystery behind the 100-year-old corpse. Is the second body related to the first in some way? Is it some weird family feud? The victim wasn’t a very pleasant fellow, so who did he anger enough to kill him? This was a thoroughly enjoyable story. The mystery (both of them) was intriguing and the solution unexpected. There were lots of clues to follow and lots of suspects to clear before we finally have solutions. I also love following along with the overarching story of Kate leading the charge to turn Asheboro, Maryland into a vintage Victorian Village similar to Williamsburg, VA. I hope you’ll give this book a try and love it as much as I did. I definitely miss this author and all of her lovely series. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Micky Cox

    The pressure is mounting for Kate as she needs to get things moving on the renovations if she is going to be able to help save the town from disappearing, but every step she takes forward seems to lead her to stumble upon a dead body that throws a wrench in the plans and this book is no exception. The intrigue spirals as Kate and crew now need to figure out if the person they are trying to plan their town's comeback around is the great guy that they have come to believe he was. A layered plot of The pressure is mounting for Kate as she needs to get things moving on the renovations if she is going to be able to help save the town from disappearing, but every step she takes forward seems to lead her to stumble upon a dead body that throws a wrench in the plans and this book is no exception. The intrigue spirals as Kate and crew now need to figure out if the person they are trying to plan their town's comeback around is the great guy that they have come to believe he was. A layered plot of various characters stories wrapped around a murder investigation makes this a delightfully entertaining read. I love the historical aspect of the books without being set in historical times. It makes the book seem all that much more realistic. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book in the series!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edith Maxwell

    I loved visiting Asheboro again in this third Victorian Village mystery from the late Sheila Connolly. Kate Hamilton has her hands full when the house she's trying to renovate turns out to include a long-dead body in the walls. Kate unfolds other mysteries from the past until justice is served and the Victorian Village project can progress. I'm sorry this is master storyteller Connolly's last tale and happy she (and her daughter, co-writer Julie Williams) left the town - and her protagonist - in I loved visiting Asheboro again in this third Victorian Village mystery from the late Sheila Connolly. Kate Hamilton has her hands full when the house she's trying to renovate turns out to include a long-dead body in the walls. Kate unfolds other mysteries from the past until justice is served and the Victorian Village project can progress. I'm sorry this is master storyteller Connolly's last tale and happy she (and her daughter, co-writer Julie Williams) left the town - and her protagonist - in a good place.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    The Secret Staircase is the third book in the Victorian Village Mystery series. Sadly, Ms. Connolly passed away in 2020, so I assume this is the final book in the series unless someone takes over writing the books. The main character, Kate Hamilton, is working with several board members to revitalize the town of Asheboro, Maryland. She is starting with turning a mansion left to the town by the late Henry Barton but the discovery of bones from a long ago murder followed by a new murder slow the p The Secret Staircase is the third book in the Victorian Village Mystery series. Sadly, Ms. Connolly passed away in 2020, so I assume this is the final book in the series unless someone takes over writing the books. The main character, Kate Hamilton, is working with several board members to revitalize the town of Asheboro, Maryland. She is starting with turning a mansion left to the town by the late Henry Barton but the discovery of bones from a long ago murder followed by a new murder slow the process down. Kate can’t help but investigate to find out if these two deaths could be related. I enjoyed the first book in this series, but missed the second one. I was surprised that the restoration of the Barton mansion and the creation of the Victorian village in the town wasn’t further along. Things are moving slowly in that process. The pace of the book is even, but also slow and there were times I lost interest in what was going on. There are two many unnecessary details that bog the story down. However, I like the characters in the book. I especially like Kate’s love interest, Professor Josh Wainwright, and her best friend Lisbeth. Without spoiling anything, documents discovered in the home are intriguing for the reader and provide Kate some important clues needed in her investigation. I like the way things are wrapped up in the end and think fans of the prior two books in this series will enjoy the book. I would rate it 3.5 stars. I received this ebook from NetGalley through the courtesy of Minotaur Books. An advance copy was provided to me at no cost, but my review is voluntary and unbiased.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen Hollins-Stallman

    The Secret Staircase" the third instalment in the “A Victorian Village Mystery” by Sheila Connolly. Sadly this will be the last book in the series as the author has passed away. This is a story of past and present generations, and family that Kate and Carroll unravel, much comes to light when they find Mary’s diaries. The setting of Asheboro, Maryland and the Barton mansion is detailed and I could picture it in my mind. I love the history in Ms. Connolly’s books. The mystery is interesting and well The Secret Staircase" the third instalment in the “A Victorian Village Mystery” by Sheila Connolly. Sadly this will be the last book in the series as the author has passed away. This is a story of past and present generations, and family that Kate and Carroll unravel, much comes to light when they find Mary’s diaries. The setting of Asheboro, Maryland and the Barton mansion is detailed and I could picture it in my mind. I love the history in Ms. Connolly’s books. The mystery is interesting and well plotted, with enough twists to keep you interested. I kept guessing and second-guessing myself on whodunnit right to the very end. I recommend this book to all my cozy lover friends. I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves mysteries. I requested and received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Minotaur Books and NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my OWN.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Brown

    It was sad reading this because I knew it'd be the last, but it ended on a happy note. I'm not sure if the author purposely ended this book like it was the end of the series or if someone wrote the ending after her death, but they did it well. I liked Kate's adventures and can see myself rereading the series in the future. It was sad reading this because I knew it'd be the last, but it ended on a happy note. I'm not sure if the author purposely ended this book like it was the end of the series or if someone wrote the ending after her death, but they did it well. I liked Kate's adventures and can see myself rereading the series in the future.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    The Project Kate is involved in restoring an old mansion called "The Barton Mansion" once owned by a factory owner. Her dream is to restore the whole town to a Victorian village, but the Barton house is the first on her list. She engages a contractor, a plumber, and an electrician to restore the house. Unfortunately the work is halted not once but twice. The first time is when a hollow wall is found in the kitchen with a body behind it that fell down a secret staircase. Work begins again but anot The Project Kate is involved in restoring an old mansion called "The Barton Mansion" once owned by a factory owner. Her dream is to restore the whole town to a Victorian village, but the Barton house is the first on her list. She engages a contractor, a plumber, and an electrician to restore the house. Unfortunately the work is halted not once but twice. The first time is when a hollow wall is found in the kitchen with a body behind it that fell down a secret staircase. Work begins again but another body shows up as the plumber is found dead from falling down a staircase. Kate does her best with her friends and the workers to renovate the house, but is it too big of a task for her? Can her friends help her find out the historical information she needs to sell the house as a Victorian tourist attraction? Will the mystery of the body in the wall and the unfortunate plumber be solved? Who was to blame, will we ever find out? This was a very engaging mystery, a lot of history of Victorian times and a lot of who done it questions to be answered. I enjoyed the book and I would recommend it. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own. Thanks to Sheila Connolly, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary copy to review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I feel bad, but I can't give this book a good review. It is the 3rd in the series, and I have been waiting to see if there is any progression in the characters, the plot, the renovation of the mansion and town, but there really doesn't seem to be. My main complaint is that, like books one and two, it seems filled with filler, going over the same things repeatedly. How many times do we have to read about all of Kate's doubts whether she can do the job or not? When they find the slightest new deta I feel bad, but I can't give this book a good review. It is the 3rd in the series, and I have been waiting to see if there is any progression in the characters, the plot, the renovation of the mansion and town, but there really doesn't seem to be. My main complaint is that, like books one and two, it seems filled with filler, going over the same things repeatedly. How many times do we have to read about all of Kate's doubts whether she can do the job or not? When they find the slightest new detail about Henry Barton's life, it is hashed and rehashed throughout the whole book, told to numerous people one at a time instead of as a group. It is the 3rd in the series, and only on about the last three pages do we read about some progress being made on the mansion. Unless the 4th (if there is one) book if offered to me free, (and even then I don't know) I seriously doubt that I will be reading anything else in this series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lesa

    Although Sheila Connolly was able to wrap up some of the mysteries behind the lives of Henry and Mary Barton in her third Victorian Village Mystery, The Secret Staircase, she left us with the village of Asheboro, Maryland unfinished, and the house unfinished. In the overall scheme of things, Sheila Connolly’s death in 2020 was a loss. Those of us who enjoyed her storytelling, and, in the case of this series, her passion and knowledge of Victorian buildings, will miss that as well. Kate Hamilton h Although Sheila Connolly was able to wrap up some of the mysteries behind the lives of Henry and Mary Barton in her third Victorian Village Mystery, The Secret Staircase, she left us with the village of Asheboro, Maryland unfinished, and the house unfinished. In the overall scheme of things, Sheila Connolly’s death in 2020 was a loss. Those of us who enjoyed her storytelling, and, in the case of this series, her passion and knowledge of Victorian buildings, will miss that as well. Kate Hamilton has enjoyed the discoveries about Henry Barton’s mansion, but she still feels as if something is missing. She wants to tell his story, but knows so little about his wife, Mary. A grant will allow the house to be renovated, and she’s eager to work with local contractors. She’s just looking for the one who shares her passion for Henry’s Victorian home. When Morgan Wheeler shows up, the quiet, confident man seems to be just the contractor for the town’s needs. He’s knowledgeable, has a few subcontractors he’ll work with, and he’s as interested in the house as Kate is. But, he doesn’t like the measurements of Kate’s favorite room, the kitchen. A little exploration leads to the discovery of a walled-up staircase. Fortunately for the town’s future plans for the mansion, the skeleton hidden behind the staircase has probably been there over one hundred years. Once the police release the scene, Morgan is free to bring in his subcontractors, a plumber and an electrician, to walk through the house. Every time Kate meets with them though, she feels uneasy. There’s a tension amongst the group. When another body is found at the bottom of a staircase, the lawyer for the town’s project gets a little huffy with Kate. Why can’t she keep dead bodies out of the mansion, especially bodies that have just died? I suspect the Victorian Village mysteries were a labor of love for Sheila Connolly. A couple of us once walked several streets in New Orleans with her, and she knew about doorknobs and iron fences and all kinds of details about the houses. She shares a great deal of knowledge about this particular Victorian house in the book. Connolly was able to make readers care, not only about the current characters, but, also about the post-Civil War lives of the people connected to the Barton home, the Bartons and their servants. And, she made an unusual and surprising connection between the people of both time periods. If you’re looking for an action-packed mystery, don’t pick up The Secret Staircase. If you’re looking for the drama of historic discoveries paired with a recent murder, a story told by an author inspired by detail, you might want to try this series. It’s just sad there won’t be more books in the series.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carla Johnson-Hicks

    Although this is only the third book in the Victorian Village Mysteries, with the death of its author, Sheila Connolly, it will probably be the last. Her daughter finished this one for her and did a wonderful job making the story seamless. In this story, Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. She has some financial backing (you need to read the second book to find out why) and is working on renovating the Barton Mansion. Although this is only the third book in the Victorian Village Mysteries, with the death of its author, Sheila Connolly, it will probably be the last. Her daughter finished this one for her and did a wonderful job making the story seamless. In this story, Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. She has some financial backing (you need to read the second book to find out why) and is working on renovating the Barton Mansion. She wants it to look like a Victorian home, but knows that the plumbing and electrical need to be brought up to code. She is meeting with construction crews to get some information, when one of them finds a hidden staircase in the kitchen. They also find a body in the staircase. Solving the cold case is not a priority, but, it will help the mansion and the recreation of the village if the mystery is solved. When a second body turns up in the mansion, this one more recent, the backers get a bit antsy. Can Kate continue with her work as well as help to find out what is happening? Once again, Kate and her friends are sorting through papers to find out the history of the Barton family and the mansion. As they discover new information, the identity of the older victim is uncovered as well as the why and who of the recent one. I am a huge history buff, so I enjoy the fact that they are uncovering the past and bringing it to light. The characters we meet in this story are both unlikable and likable. They are realistic in their attitudes and work ethic. I was a bit worried about Kate's and Josh's relationship, but by the end we get an answer to what is happening. This is an interesting story with a good mystery (both of them) and great characters. The ending does tie up the series nicely and I was happy with the way it ended. The audiobook was once again narrated by Emily Durante, so was a very pleasant listening experience.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    The project to make Asheboro, Maryland into the Victorian showpiece it once was is going well. The townspeople have finally come around to her way of thinking and the money is no longer an issue. Her first big renovation will be the Barton Mansion thankfully its in pretty good condition so the only big change will be to the kitchen. When the contractors working on the project find a secret staircase along with a body the project comes to a screeching halt. Thankfully after an examination Kate le The project to make Asheboro, Maryland into the Victorian showpiece it once was is going well. The townspeople have finally come around to her way of thinking and the money is no longer an issue. Her first big renovation will be the Barton Mansion thankfully its in pretty good condition so the only big change will be to the kitchen. When the contractors working on the project find a secret staircase along with a body the project comes to a screeching halt. Thankfully after an examination Kate learns the body is from the 1800's. She soon learns the mans death wasn't natural but murder. Kate wants to figure out who the man was and why he was killed. During her investigation another body is found and this one happens to be from this era. Do the two deaths have anything to do with one another or is it all just a coincidence? Kate is determined to find out hoping along the way she can solve both deaths!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Morin

    I enjoyed the characters in this book and they mystery itself was very good. The history of the house piqued my interest, it’s always fun to learn the history of the old houses included in the stories. I’ve enjoyed several books by this author and I’m looking forward to enjoying more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cozy Cat Reviews

    This is the third release in the outstanding "Victoria Village Mysteries" series by cozy author Sheila Connolly. The author is one of my favorite cozy authors and I was pleased to receive this for review. I highly recommend this series. Sadly the author has passed away and this is her last book assisted by her daughter. All of us in the cozy community are deeply saddened by her passing. Sheila Connelly was a masterful storyteller and a author I will always treasure. In this third in series our p This is the third release in the outstanding "Victoria Village Mysteries" series by cozy author Sheila Connolly. The author is one of my favorite cozy authors and I was pleased to receive this for review. I highly recommend this series. Sadly the author has passed away and this is her last book assisted by her daughter. All of us in the cozy community are deeply saddened by her passing. Sheila Connelly was a masterful storyteller and a author I will always treasure. In this third in series our protagnist Kate is rapidly moving forward with her plans to renovate the town into the Victorian village it once was. She has the financing and approvals and begins work on a mansion that is part of the long awaited project. The Barton mansion is going to be used to host events when the renovation is complete. When a body is found in the wall kate becomes involved in the murder and wants to solve this mysterious mystery from the 1800's. When a present day murder occurs Kate is sure the two may be connected by circumstance involving long ago town history. I like Kate as a savvy smart protagnist . The supporting charcters are delightful and the setting of a small town converted to a Victorian village is wonderful. This is a wonderful way to leave the series . I highly recommend this next in series for your reading enjoyment.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Kate has returned to her hometown of Asheboro, Maryland to lead the Asheboro Revitalization Project. One big focus is the mansion left to the town by Henry Barton when he died in 1911. It’s a very large Victorian mansion that has not been lived in since Mr. Barton died. Now, the town wants to restore it and use it for civic events. Kate has her friend, Carroll, and boyfriend, Josh, helping her. She wants to focus on the kitchen first and interviews some contractors. One realizes that a kitchen wa Kate has returned to her hometown of Asheboro, Maryland to lead the Asheboro Revitalization Project. One big focus is the mansion left to the town by Henry Barton when he died in 1911. It’s a very large Victorian mansion that has not been lived in since Mr. Barton died. Now, the town wants to restore it and use it for civic events. Kate has her friend, Carroll, and boyfriend, Josh, helping her. She wants to focus on the kitchen first and interviews some contractors. One realizes that a kitchen wall is oddly shaped and using a camera placed into the wall, discovers a dead body at the end of a hidden staircase. Looks like the body has been there for a long time. I believe this is the first book I have read by this author and I must say that I enjoyed it immensely. The story is compelling and the characters are well-crafted. I learned so much about the Victorian time period as it related to the home. I was impressed with the intricate work done to investigate the history of the Barton family. There was some sadness but I was proud of the “decision” made in the end. Yes, that is a cryptic remark but so meaningful, and thus my way of teasing readers into checking out this book. It’s nice and wholesome too! Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vintagebooklvr

    This is the third in a series where Kate Hamilton is trying to revive a dying town by revitalizing it as a Victorian village and a tourist destination. It requires a lot of renovation and one of the gems is an old mansion she hopes to start with. But just as she seems to have secured a great crew dissension arises and an old body is found in a sealed staircase. Then a new body joins the old and Kate has to figure out who is the modern day murderer before he or she kills the town’s hopes too. I ha This is the third in a series where Kate Hamilton is trying to revive a dying town by revitalizing it as a Victorian village and a tourist destination. It requires a lot of renovation and one of the gems is an old mansion she hopes to start with. But just as she seems to have secured a great crew dissension arises and an old body is found in a sealed staircase. Then a new body joins the old and Kate has to figure out who is the modern day murderer before he or she kills the town’s hopes too. I haven’t read the previous books in the series but it was easy enough to understand what was going on. I enjoyed the characters who are well rounded though it is obvious I had missed some of their bonds that grew from the previous books, this was particularly obvious in her relationship her perhaps boyfriend. But my favorite part was interweaving of information about the builder of the house and his wife into the story and making it relevant to the mystery. A fun mystery. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the ARC in an exchange for an honest opinion.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christine Lussier

    Book #3 in the Victorian Village Mystery series. I have to say, the characters are likeable, the story is well written & descriptive, but it is killing me that Kate is so disorganized & hardly making a dent in the village makeover. An old death filled with mystery, as well as a new, keep the story moving. Once again, a surprise "who did it". I wonder when, if ever, Kate will actually speak to the store owners & start the town makeover? Interesting & entertaining. Thanks to NetGalley & St Martin's Book #3 in the Victorian Village Mystery series. I have to say, the characters are likeable, the story is well written & descriptive, but it is killing me that Kate is so disorganized & hardly making a dent in the village makeover. An old death filled with mystery, as well as a new, keep the story moving. Once again, a surprise "who did it". I wonder when, if ever, Kate will actually speak to the store owners & start the town makeover? Interesting & entertaining. Thanks to NetGalley & St Martin's Press for the preread in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    As Kate works on the project to renovate the old Barton mansion, which she hopes will be the ticket to renewed prosperity for her sleepy home town, she and her crew discover more mysteries about the long-dead Bartons, and also find a literal skeleton in the closet (well, in a walled-off staircase). Her efforts to solve this mystery are delayed when a new corpse is found in the basement, at the foot of the stairs...Less detection, and less mystery, than one might expect, and at least a partial so As Kate works on the project to renovate the old Barton mansion, which she hopes will be the ticket to renewed prosperity for her sleepy home town, she and her crew discover more mysteries about the long-dead Bartons, and also find a literal skeleton in the closet (well, in a walled-off staircase). Her efforts to solve this mystery are delayed when a new corpse is found in the basement, at the foot of the stairs...Less detection, and less mystery, than one might expect, and at least a partial solution in a chance-found diary.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tari

    I really enjoyed this final book in the series as well as the final book that author Sheila Connolly ever worked on before her death last year. I'd read that her daughter finished the book for her, but it was very seamless to me and was just as if Sheila herself was writing every word. In other words, I think her daughter did an excellent job with however much or little she found she needed to do. I would never have known had I not seen a comment on a blog about this. I was glad to see that Kate I really enjoyed this final book in the series as well as the final book that author Sheila Connolly ever worked on before her death last year. I'd read that her daughter finished the book for her, but it was very seamless to me and was just as if Sheila herself was writing every word. In other words, I think her daughter did an excellent job with however much or little she found she needed to do. I would never have known had I not seen a comment on a blog about this. I was glad to see that Kate and the town were making some good headway with the Barton mansion. The body that was found was an unexpected small delay, but later some other findings would hopefully lead to who this was and why the person was hidden there. I hadn't guessed the killer of the present day murder, and I loved the flash forward to Christmastime for the end of the book. I have no idea if this was truly supposed to be the last book, but Sheila and her daughter did a great job of wrapping things up and giving the characters and storyline a good closure. I'll miss seeing anything new from Sheila Connolly, but since I'd only recently started reading her work (meaning this series is the first of her writing I ever read before I read the first Orchard and first County Cork), I have tons of great reading ahead of me! I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own. This book releases August 24, 2021.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    The Secret Staircase is the third book in the Victorian Village Mystery series by Sheila Connolly. Kate Hamilton plans to revitalize her hometown, Asheboro, MD, into a victorian themed town are moving along. She has decided to renovate the mansion of Henry Barton first to have it become the centerpiece for the renovation of the community. Her plans are first to bring the home up to code and improvements to the kitchen to hold events for groups. The first concern is to find a contractor who will r The Secret Staircase is the third book in the Victorian Village Mystery series by Sheila Connolly. Kate Hamilton plans to revitalize her hometown, Asheboro, MD, into a victorian themed town are moving along. She has decided to renovate the mansion of Henry Barton first to have it become the centerpiece for the renovation of the community. Her plans are first to bring the home up to code and improvements to the kitchen to hold events for groups. The first concern is to find a contractor who will respect the historic building. After interviewing two contractors who didn’t meet Kate’s requirements, she met Morgan Wheeler, who wanted to believe in restoration and had experience with restoration. She now had a contractor she was sure she could work with. While inspecting the kitchen, Morgan was perplexed by the proportion of the room; he felt that the wall might have been added at a later date. It was possibly added to cover a staircase that the servants would have used. Morgan tapped on the wall and guesses that the wall had been added at a later date. He went to his truck for his scope and made a small hole to insert the scope. Once he had the scope in the hole, he could see a body lying at the bottom of a small staircase. Kate called Detective Reynolds. It is thought that the body might have been there since the 1880s. That was the last time any remodeling had been done at the mansion. When Carroll Peterson, who’s been researching the life of Barton and cataloging his papers, arrives, Kate asks her to look for anything that might be a clue as to who the body might be. When an electrician arrives, two begin wiring updates and finds a loose floorboard which proves to be the hiding place for a diary of Barton’s wife. This diary has provided the first information that has been discovered about Barton’s wife. Not long into the renovation, another body is found at the foot of the basement stairs. The body turns out to be a contractor Kate had interviewed and rejected. She felt he was too interested in inspecting not mansion and not looking for what work needed to be done. At first, it appeared to be an accident, but it is determined to be murder after the police investigation. I’ve loved all of Ms. Connolly’s books, and this was no exception. The books are well-written, and her stories give you a sense of being in the story. The characters are well developed and interesting. This book will probably be the last in the series as Ms. Connolly passed away in 2020. Hopefully, the author had started book four or had at least had it plotted out. If so, I would love for the publisher to contract another author to continue this interesting series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Gonya

    I was given a free e-copy of this novel by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I have not read anything by Sheila Connolly before, and this novel is the third in her Victorian Village Mysteries series. However, while there are vague references to the previous books, there is no reason this novel could not be read as a standalone. Kate Hamilton has returned to Asheboro after having moved away and becoming a successful building renovator. She has fallen in love with Civil War hero and Asheb I was given a free e-copy of this novel by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I have not read anything by Sheila Connolly before, and this novel is the third in her Victorian Village Mysteries series. However, while there are vague references to the previous books, there is no reason this novel could not be read as a standalone. Kate Hamilton has returned to Asheboro after having moved away and becoming a successful building renovator. She has fallen in love with Civil War hero and Asheboro famous Henry Barton's house, and is spearheading the project for its rebirth. However, before work can commence, a body is found in a hidden stairwell. It is determined that the body is about 100 years old, and just when she thought the work could start, a second body is found. Only this one is much more recent. Now Kate must figure out what is going on before it puts the whole project, and more lives, in jeopardy. I really enjoyed this novel. I love Victorian era-esque novels. While this is set in modern times, I enjoyed the educational aspects that the author added. I know the town is fictional, but the research that went into the background was very well formed. The mysteries were absolutely well placed. I kind of already had an idea of what had happened, but the historical mystery was interesting. It held my attention because I wanted to know more. Overall I rate this 5 out of 5 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly has Kate Hamilton working on her plans for the Barton Mansion in Asheboro, Maryland. Her first order of business is to find a contractor. The third one on the list seems like the best fit for the project. He discovers a hidden staircase in the kitchen with a body laying at the bottom. It turns out that the man has been there since the late 1800s and someone murdered him. This is not the type of history Kate wanted to uncover on the Victorian home nor the f The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly has Kate Hamilton working on her plans for the Barton Mansion in Asheboro, Maryland. Her first order of business is to find a contractor. The third one on the list seems like the best fit for the project. He discovers a hidden staircase in the kitchen with a body laying at the bottom. It turns out that the man has been there since the late 1800s and someone murdered him. This is not the type of history Kate wanted to uncover on the Victorian home nor the family that occupied it. Not long after the kitchen work begins, a second man is found dead inside the mansion. Kate wonders if there is a connection between the two deaths and sets out to get answers. The Secret Staircase is the third book in A Victorian Village Mystery series. I like the premise for this series which is why I have kept coming back to it. I grew up in German Village in Columbus, Ohio and nearby there is a Victorian Village. I find myself, though, unable to get into the story. It is told in the first person, so we are subject to Kate’s thoughts (she has so many of them). Kate seems to have an endless list of questions and list of items to accomplish (but she does not write them down). If she is going to get this project completed, Kate needs to get organized (and be more professional). She also needs to get over her self-doubts (she goes on endlessly about them). Kate needed a contractor for the project who does reconstruction not renovation. Most people would have used a search engine, but Kate kept asking people if they knew a contractor. I wondered if Kate owned a computer (or any office supplies). There are quite a few characters in the story. We are given basic information on them, but they are not fully fleshed out. I like Carroll, Lisbeth, and Bethany. Josh seems like a nice man, but how many times do we have to hear about his looks. The author’s descriptions of the mansion allowed me to visualize the beautiful Victorian home. However, the details about the renovations were dry and repetitive. The story moved at a slow pace and many details were repeated at least three times (sometimes more). The research into the Barton family is interesting (some parts were more fascinating than others). It just became dreary at times (the research part). I found this series different from Sheila Connolly’s A Museum Mystery series. I wanted this series to be more like the one featuring Nell Pratt. The mystery was fascinating. I was curious to see how everything would tie together. I was beginning to wonder if any progress would be made on the Barton Mansion. As you can tell, I did not enjoy my experience with The Secret Staircase. There are good bones, but it did not come together into a pleasing whole. The Secret Staircase is small town cozy with staircase surprises, a kitchen conundrum, fine food, congeries of research, and a pair of murders.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. When the book first arrived at my house it promptly disappeared. My Mom, a big cozy mystery fan, grabbed it before I had a chance to really even look at it, and devoured it in three days. She'd read a couple of Connolly's County Cork books, and found she really enjoyed this one too. I've added another author to keep an eye out for when I'm shopping for her birthday gifts! Then it was my turn. Now I'm more of a science fiction/f I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. When the book first arrived at my house it promptly disappeared. My Mom, a big cozy mystery fan, grabbed it before I had a chance to really even look at it, and devoured it in three days. She'd read a couple of Connolly's County Cork books, and found she really enjoyed this one too. I've added another author to keep an eye out for when I'm shopping for her birthday gifts! Then it was my turn. Now I'm more of a science fiction/fantasy fan but I do enjoy a nice cozy mystery to mix things up a bit. This book definitely fit the criteria of a cozy mystery, where you have mostly regular people, rarely police/detectives as the protagonists, that just happen to stumble across a ridiculous number of murders (as this is the third book, Kate must have found at least four as there were two in this one). Another quality of a cozy mystery is that you can usually jump in anywhere in the series as they are fairly episodic with a faint thread that ties them all together. Aside from trying to figure out what Kate was doing for two whole books before this one (the project she was brought to the town to work on only really got going here), I had no trouble figuring out what was going on and who the characters were. For the most part I really enjoyed it, it was a relaxing read, perfect for summer. My only complaints was that her days seemed incredibly short, she seemed to be going to bed every chapter, and that there was maybe a little too much time spent on her making lists of things she needed to do, rather than moving the plot. I get that the list thing was regarding the job but it just took up quite a bit of page space when there were murders to solve. I really enjoyed the historical mystery, how they were not only dealing with a murder, but also needing to figure out who Henry Barton and his wife really were. How did they live, did they have kids, what was it like back then? Another genre I'm fond of is historical fiction so that fit right in for me. Thus while I was debating between 4 and 5 stars, the fact my Mom just loved it bumped it up to a 5. And since we live in the same house and share some of our books, I'll be reading more Connolly in the future too! Oh...while reading another review I see that Connolly passed away last year...I supposed we'll never see if Kate succeeds in achieving her vision of reviving this Victorian town, but there are four other series (plus the two books I've missed in this one) to keep my Mom and I reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jean Kolinofsky

    Asheboro, Maryland is a town that is dying. At one time a factory provided a living for its’ residents. When the factory closed the people looked elsewhere for employment and population dropped. Now the Asheboro Revitalization Project is working to bring tourism to the town by developing it as a Victorian village. This was Kate Hamilton’s suggestion and she has taken on the responsibility of managing the project. Kate grew up in Asheboro but left after high school. With a background of working i Asheboro, Maryland is a town that is dying. At one time a factory provided a living for its’ residents. When the factory closed the people looked elsewhere for employment and population dropped. Now the Asheboro Revitalization Project is working to bring tourism to the town by developing it as a Victorian village. This was Kate Hamilton’s suggestion and she has taken on the responsibility of managing the project. Kate grew up in Asheboro but left after high school. With a background of working in the hotel industry, she was called back to the town by an old friend who asked for her help. The centerpiece of her project is the Barton Mansion. Built in the 1800s, it was abandoned after the death of Henry Barton but still has most of the original furnishings. Kate expects problems with restoring plumbing and electricity, but a hidden staircase with a hundred year old body on it is more than she anticipated. This is the third book in Sheila Connolly’s Victorian Village Mystery series, but she provides enough backstory to enjoy it on its’ own. Kate is assisted by Carroll, who specializes in researching resource collections, and Josh, a history professor from Johns Hopkins University. While they have found letters and articles on Henry Barton and his factory, little is known about his wife Mary. This becomes the center of Carroll’s research while Kate interviews contractors for the restoration of the mansion. She hires Morgan Wheeler who is passionate about the restoration of older homes and is familiar with the mansion. From the first day, however, there is trouble with Morgan’s crew. As if an old body isn’t enough trouble, a second body is soon found at the site. This is a recent death and Kate must clear her crew of suspicion. Connolly reveals the story of the Barton Mansion and the family that lived there. It is a story of history and heartbreak that also reveals a surprising connection to a current resident of the area. Even though the plot of The Secret Staircase revolves around the mansion’s restoration the town still faces renovation, providing ample opportunity for more mysteries to come. This is more than the revitalization of a dying town. It is also a story that brings a community together and provides a solid mystery. I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing this book for my review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Publisher’s Summary From New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village Mystery, which finds Kate Hamilton discovering a long-dead body in a hidden staircase. Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming together. Kate's first goal is to renovate the Barton Mansion on the outskirts of town. Luckily, it's been well Publisher’s Summary From New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village Mystery, which finds Kate Hamilton discovering a long-dead body in a hidden staircase. Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming together. Kate's first goal is to renovate the Barton Mansion on the outskirts of town. Luckily, it's been well maintained in the century since the wealthy Henry Barton lived and died there. The only substantial change she's planning is to update the original kitchen so that it can be used to cater events in the building. But when the contractor gets started, he discovers a hidden staircase that had been walled in years earlier. And as Kate's luck would have it, in the stairwell is a body. After her initial shock wears off, Kate is relieved when the autopsy reveals that the man had died around 1880. Unfortunately, it also reveals that his was not a natural death—he was murdered. And serious questions remain: who was he and what was he doing there? Kate begins a hunt to identify the man and figure out what he was doing at the Barton Mansion. But when a second body is found—this time from the present day—Kate realizes that real dangers lie in digging up the past... My Recommendation(s) This book was hard for me to get into at first. At the center of the mysteries in this book is an old Victorian home that has fallen into disrepair. The first mystery revolves around the long-dead owner of the home. Little is known about him, and the search is on to find out more about him. The second mystery centers around a dead body discovered in a sealed-off staircase. The body has been hidden away in this unusual tomb for so long it’s mummified. The last mystery involves the death of one of the contractors working on the house. Even though there are several mysteries going on in this book, I wasn’t drawn into the story—at first. Too much of it came across as filler and kept me from caring much about the story. But then part way through the novel, I was pulled in and couldn’t stop reading. The filler was replaced with clues that picked up the pace. The resolutions to all three mysteries brought this novel to a satisfying conclusion.

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