by Stacy Green
Series: Delta Crossroads #2
Genres: Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Cage Foster can’t catch a break. The discovery of a dusty skeleton in the antebellum home he’s caring for is bad enough. But the unearthing of two fresh bodies, buried during his tenure at Ironwood Plantation, may land Cage on Mississippi’s death row. Even worse, the one person certain of his innocence is a pushy Yankee newcomer, a woman who talks too fast and still believes in the romance of the Old South. A specialist in historical renovation, Dani Evans intends to restore Ironwood to its former glory while she rebuilds her life after the death of her mother. Death, hidden treasure, and falling in love with a murder suspect were not part of the plan. The lure of the infamous Ironwood treasure cache convinces Dani the skeleton is the key to unraveling the legend, and that the treasure itself is the motive for the murders. Cage is certain an old grudge is setting him up for murder, but the evidence against him is mounting and time is running out. Dani believes she can find the truth before Cage is arrested, but her search for answers will uncover a descent into madness that should have stayed buried.
In July, I reviewed, Tin God, the first book in Stacy Green’s Delta Crosswords romantic suspense series and enjoyed it. I was eager to begin Cage’s story in, Skeleton’s Key. While this is book two, each of the novels work as a standalone. Once again Green delivered a gripping murder mystery in the heart of Mississippi. A historic plantation, secret rooms, murder and a side dish of romance had me flipping the pages to uncover the truth. Mini review: fascinating, suspenseful. Small-town charm and a little romance made this an entertaining read.
Cage Foster, a local police officer and caretaker for the Ironwood Plantation discovers an old skeleton in the dirt floor of the cellar and contacts the new owner Dani Evans. When she arrives, noises in the night and a raccoon uncover fresh bodies. Cage quickly finds himself suspect number one. Imagine his surprise when Dani is one of the few people who believe he is innocent. The tale that unfolds was suspenseful as together they searched for clues and developed their relationship.
We met Cage in the previous novel, and we know the heartache he has suffered. Cage believes in preserving Mississippi’s history and loves taking care of the Ironwood plantation. Its recent sale to a Yankee has him concerned, and he is determined not to like the new owner. I liked Cage, he is a good old boy and easy on the eye. He is a faithful friend, works hard for the community and has that southern charm that makes you swoon. Dani Evans has recently lost her mother and is fulfilling a dream they both shared. She has been working as a restorer and has a fascination with the past. These two are funny together. She talks too fast, and her romantic notations regarding the south make Cage crazy, but her belief in him moves him. I loved watching their relationship move from dislike to attraction to something more. Green did an excellent job of developing the characters and gave us a health list of suspects. From villains to over eager detectives these characters added to the overall suspense.
Skeleton’s Key has elements of a cozy mystery, wrapped in romantic suspense and it kept me engaged. Green brings the town of Roselea, Mississippi to life from the townsfolk to the old plantations. She shares its rich history allowing you to imagine the south in its grandeur. Besides being a pretty intense murder mystery, Skeleton’s Key was also a fascinating look at the Ironwood plantation and its history from slaves to the civil war. Green has an easy flow to her tales, and the details while rich didn’t weigh down the tale, instead they draw you in giving you a panoramic view. I could feel the oppressive, sticky heat and imagine sitting on a rocker sipping overly sweeten tea. While, in the beginning, the romance felt a little rushed, the overall thread felt believable, and I was able to connect with this couple. The murder thread was well done, with twists and believable suspects. I loved how Green tied all of the clues together cementing my faith in her as a mystery writer. I closed the book satisfied and eager to return to this small town.
Fans of romantic suspense, history, cozy mysteries and small towns will enjoy Skeleton’s Key. Stacy Green has become a favorite mystery writer for me, and I am looking forward to visiting the Delta Crossroads series again.
Four and half cups of coffee
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