Welcome to the book tour for Old Sins by Lynne Handy! Read on for more details and exclusive excerpt!
Old Sins (A Maria Pell Mystery)
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2022
Battered by her archeologist lover’s betrayal, poet Maria Pell flees to an Irish village to study prehistoric people and write her next volume of poetry, but her sanctuary is invaded first by her moody cousin and then by her Togolese lover who unexpectedly show up on her doorstep. When the discovery of a girl’s body on a rocky shore reawakens Maria’s devastating childhood memory of finding a dead baby floating in a stream, her days become haunted by this child’s death. As teenage girls disappear, villagers are terrified that sex-traffickers are targeting their community. With crimes to be solved, both past and present, Maria risks her life to bring the perpetrators to justice.
In the summer of 1988 when I was ten, I found a baby girl caught in the cattails of a stream running through my parents’ property. At first, I thought she was another baby Moses waiting to be discovered in the bulrushes. It was when I knelt to free her from the fronds that I saw her ashen face, her vacant eyes, and knew she was dead.
I see it all in slow motion now: I, in a yellow sundress, scrambling to my feet, knowing something was horribly wrong that a baby had been thrown in the creek. I ran toward my house crying, “There’s a dead baby in the creek!”
My academician father was sitting in the porch swing, reading a newspaper. He threw it down and came running. The kitchen door banged behind my mother. “John? What is it?”
I ran to her and pressed my face against her chest.“It’s a dead baby,” I sobbed.“She’s wearing a pink dress.”
“A pink dress?” My mother folded her arms around me and stared after my father, who admonished her to stay where she was. I’m sure my mother looked at the baby afterward, but not on the day that I found her.
No one ever claimed her. No one ever admitted throwing her in the creek. The town called her Baby Doe. The coroner said she’d been alive when she went in the water. She had been a throwaway child. Until finding her, I had not known that children could be so unloved they would be discarded. I was so distressed that my parents sent me to a psychiatrist who told my mother that I had merged my psyche with that of the unwanted infant and feared no one would ever want me.
How many times during my childhood had my mother asked if I knew how much she and my father loved me? Taken literally, it was a difficult question to answer, so I had kept silent. How do you measure love? Fear of abandonment helped form the woman I became, and in some ways, I remained stuck emotionally in my tenth year.
Available on Amazon
About the Author
The eldest child in a farm family, I grew up in western Indiana where the tall corn drove me inward to create fantasy worlds. Books were my salvation. I was drawn to poetry in the beginning. Wordsworth and other poets taught me that metaphor, sound, and cadence made a good poem. From authors like Dickens, I learned that rhythmic sentences advanced plot. Hemingway taught me about verbs. Upon graduating from library school, I worked as a librarian in Illinois, Texas, and Michigan. In retirement, I co-founded Open Sky Poets, a collaboration of poets in the western suburbs of Chicago, and published poems and short stories in literary journals. I self-published three novels—two are mysteries. Current projects involve a mystery series with author Jake Westin, who, like Christie’s Miss Marple, somehow lands in the middle of murder investigations. I live in a brick house with roses in front and two rescue dogs who bark at passersby.
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My thoughts: this was a really interesting book, the way the past and present kept colliding in Maria’s life, the echo of the Baby Doe case from her childhood that still haunted her as an adult and the current murders and disappearances that brought it back up. Her relationship with her cousin Elizabeth was also intriguing – they were sharing the cottage but seemed to be very different and even uncomfortable with each other, not as close as you might expect really.
The presence of her estranged husband presented more past reflected into the present. She was still undecided on her feelings for him and yet they were connected by the tragedies and their interest in Irish history.
As more teenage girls were kidnapped and tensions among the community grew, the book gets tenser, Maria’s outsider status makes it hard for her to connect but she involves herself in the case, pushing to find out the fate of these children. As though doing so would resolve the Baby Doe case that troubles her. Clever and twisting, the answers buried in the past still haunting the present.
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