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October 18, 2023

The Ohnita Harbor Mysteries by Patricia Crisafulli ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

Here are reviews of the first two books in a new series. The main character is really brave and impulsive and doesn't worry about her safety if she can help other people. I look forward to future books in the series.

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The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor

book cover of mystery novel The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor
September 2022; Woodhall Press; 978-1954907485
audio, ebook, print (394 pages); mystery

This well-written cozy mystery takes place in upstate New York in a small town with a library that is trying to stay open with reduced funding from the city.  Gabriela left her job in a New York city library with her son after she split with her husband.  She is now the Director of Circulation at the small town library.  She moved from NYC to take care of her mother and misses life in the big city.  Plus she's gone from a well-funded library system to a library that is having a rummage sale to try to make money to stay open. She finds a small cross along with a lot of junk that people have donated for the rummage sale.    When the carved center turns out to be ivory and a clue links the cross to Catherine of Siena, a medieval saint, Gabriela turns to her expertise as an authenticator of historic documents to lead the quest to discover the truth about this mysterious object.  While she is working to authenticate the cross, there are several mysterious murders in town that seem to be linked to the cross.  Will the cross bring money to keep the library running or will it continue to cause problems in the town??

There were several fantastic characters in this book.  Gabriela is a tenacious truth-teller who wants to help everyone even if it endangers her life.  She loves her work at the library and loves spending time with her son.  Her mother drives her crazy at times because she always has something to say about anything her daughter is doing.  The mother was my favorite character -- she was an Italian immigrant and some of her comments made me laugh out loud.  There is also the start of a new romance that fits right in with the story.

The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor is a mystery.  Since Gabriela was the first person to find the cross, she feels like she should help the police find the murderer.  She gets herself in some difficult situations, especially toward the end.  I can usually guess who the bad guy is but I didn't see this ending coming. 

The Secrets of Still Waters Chasm

book cover of mystery novel The Secrets of Still Waters Chasm by Patricia Crisafulli
September 2023; Woodhall Press; 978-1954907645
ebook, print (308 pages); mystery

Book two in the series took us back to the library in Ohnita Harbor and back into the lives of Gabriela, her mother Agnese, and her new boyfriend Daniel.  The big change is that Gabriela is now the head librarian.  When she's out on a hike with Daniel they find two bodies.  They leave the area to get cell service to call the police but when they get back to the lake, the bodies are gone.  As the head librarian, she starts a library outreach program in the small neighboring town of Livery, near Still Waters Chasm.  She meets some interesting people including an herbalist and her friend Wendy who wants to sell an old drawing to make enough money to leave her abusive husband.  Of course, Gabriela agrees to work on authenticating the drawing which ends up getting her in major trouble not only with the town but with her boyfriend Daniel who wants her to quit doing dangerous things and take care of herself and her problems with Wendy's husband become a real danger.  Gabriela's mom gets involved in a kidnapping with her daughter and both of their lives are put in danger.  This part of the novel had me rapidly turning pages in hopes that both women would survive.  

Once again, Gabriela puts her life in danger by trying to help other people.  I'm not sure if it's more bravery or impulsiveness that put her into the life and death situations but either way, it makes for a fantastic page-turning reading.  She is a well-written character that I really enjoyed reading about and once again, her mother is one of the best characters and always has something to say about whatever her daughter is doing.  It's apparent that they don't always get along because they are so much alike -- both are outspoken and stubborn.

I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next trip to the library in Ohnita Harbor.

NOTE:  To get maximum enjoyment out of this series, I suggest that you read the books in order.

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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