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An Annie’s Attic Mystery


Up in her grandmother’s attic in Stony Point, Maine, Annie Dawson finds a stack of old letters from her childhood friend Susan Morris. Annie remembers Susan fondly and would like to get back in touch, but nobody seems to know what’s become of her. Her friends at The Hook and Needle Club aren’t much help either. All they remember is that Susan left town more than twenty years ago to marry a very wealthy man, but none of them is quite sure who he was. And Annie can find no record of any marriage.
The more Annie searches, the more she begins to wonder if something has happened to Susan. Something bad. (SEE REVIEW AND EXCERPT BELOW)


In chasing her mischievous cat Boots up to the attic of her late grandmother’s house, Annie Dawson discovers a pack of letters she had exchanged with a childhood friend, Susan. Reading through them, Annie begins to wonder, whatever happened to Susan, anyway?

Annie begins a casual search, but disturbing results prompt her to dig deeper. And when she receives an anonymous warning to let the matter rest, it only turns the search into an obsession. The consequences of her digging spiral out of her control, creating a final face-off that surprised even this jaded mystery reader.

Although this is book #4 of a series (written by authors other than Dodson) I did not feel I had missed a thing in the story. The characters are fully fleshed, especially Annie, who reacts with strength and grace when she realizes that she has made a fatal misstep. Supporting characters, such as Officer Roy, are a delight. And most important (to me, anyway) the plot is well paced, well constructed, and explosive in the end.

A 5-star rating.

-- Robin Hardy, author of the Annals of Lystra and the Streiker Saga


The old Morris house was mostly the way Annie remembered it, even down to the fan-shaped window above the front door, but it was much smaller than she recalled from her girlhood. Still, it was a lovely old place set back in the trees, crisp and white against the brilliant reds and yellows of the maples. Susan had told her once that the house was nearly two hundred years old. It had seen a lot of living. No wonder Susan had loved it.
Annie stopped at the end of the long gravel driveway and got out of the car, content to just look. She noticed that the door, like the shutters, was painted a very dark green, not the black she remembered from Susan’s days, but the paint was fresh and neat and the yard, apart from the wilder part that stretched back into the forest, well kept. Maybe the Maxwells loved the house, too.
She walked a little farther down the drive, lost in the memories of girlhood, remembering where she and Susan had played and giggled and whispered. She wandered up to the big oak at the corner of the house that had once held a tire swing. The swing itself was gone now, but the hooks that had supported the chains were still buried in place. And there were still some weathered strips of wood fastened to the tree trunk with long-rusted nails. She was sure they were the remains of the ladder Susan’s dad had made to help them get up into the lower branches of the tree.
She and Susan had always pretended they were far above the earth, playing in the clouds like—
“Did you want something?”
Annie sucked in a startled breath and turned. The man standing there in jeans and a rumpled flannel shirt open over a v-necked undershirt was perhaps in his late forties. His tangled mop of dark hair and serious stubble of beard told Annie that he had just wakened.
“I—I’m sorry. I was just—” She smiled weakly. “There used to be a swing in this tree.”
He glanced up at the empty branches and then looked back at her, his eyes skeptical, suspicious. “Was there something you wanted?”
“Are you Tom Maxwell?”
“Yeah. Is that a problem?”
She blinked at his bluntness. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
He raked one hand through his hair. “It’s no big deal. Did you want something?”
She tried the smile again. “My name is Annie Dawson. It sounds a little bit silly now that I’m here, but a friend of mine and her family used to live in this house. About twenty years ago. I’ve been trying to find some information about her for a while now. Susan Morris.”
“I don’t know anything about twenty years ago. I bought the place from some people called Blanchard in 2000.”
“Yes, I realize that, but—”
His dark eyes narrowed. “How would you know who I bought my house from?”
“Well, I didn’t really know who you got it from, but I did find out that my friend sold it to the Blanchards back in 1989, so I just assumed. . .”
Annie let the words trail off. Clearly Mr. Maxwell was not impressed by her sleuthing abilities. She tried again.
“Don’t you do handyman work in the area?”
“Yeah. Do you have something you need done?”
“I might. I’m thinking of redoing my bathroom, but I just can’t decide exactly how. This is a great old house. Have you done any remodeling since you’ve been here?”
His suspicious expression did not change. “Some.”
“I hope you didn’t do very much. It’s such a lovely old place.”
“Not much.”
“I guess Mrs. Maxwell likes having her own live-in handyman.”
He shrugged. “When she doesn’t have to wait for one of my other jobs to get done. How do you know about my wife?”
“I was just talking with Ian Butler. He said he’d met you before and that you and your wife live out here.”
His eyes narrowed again. “Why?”
“It was just small talk. We were discussing my friend and this house. It wasn’t really about you and Mrs. Maxwell.”
“I didn’t think the mayor knew that much about us.”
“Oh, Ian knows everybody in and around town. You’d like him if you got to know him. I think you’d like most everybody in Stony Point. Reverend Wallace always says—Have you met Reverend Wallace?”
“A time or two. Nice guy.”
“Anyway, he always says that our neighbors are like—”
“Look, Mrs. Dawson, we pretty much think that a good neighbor is one who stays out of everybody else’s way. Your friend sold this house years before I ever moved here, and I don’t know all that much about the place anyway. It’s a good solid house, and that’s all that matters to me. I just can’t help you with anything else.”
He crossed his arms over his chest and looked pointedly in the direction of her car.
“Do you think your wife—?”
“I think my wife can’t help you either. We’re both pretty busy. I’m sure you can understand that.”
Obviously, the conversation was over.

ANNIE'S MYSTERIES (in order of publication):

The Lady in the Attic by Tara Randel
Medals in the Attic by Cathy Elliott
The Photo Album by Marlene Chase
Letters in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
The Package by Sharon Dunn
The Map in the Attic by Jolyn Sharp
Rag Doll in the Attic by Jan Fields
Boxed In by Karen Kelly
The Deed in the Attic by K. D. McCrite
Emeralds in the Attic by Jan Fields
The Wedding Dress by Mary O'Donnell
The Valise in the Attic by Jan Fields
The Unfinished Sonata by K. D. McCrite
The Stolen Canvas by Marlene Chase
A Man of His Word by Karen Kelly
The Key in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
Road Trip! by Jan Fields
The Tapestry in the Attic by Mary O'Donnell
Gunns & Roses by Karen Kelly
The Legend of Fuller's Island by Jan Fields
A Stony Point Christmas by K. D. McCrite
A Spicy Secret by D. Savannah George
The Cats and the Riddle by Jan Fields
Jazzed by Donna Kelly
The Diary in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
Angels in the Attic by Mary O'Donnell
Wild Things by Karen Kelly
The Kennel Caper by Jan Fields
The Legacy in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
The Ring in the Attic by K. D. McCrite
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