Saturday, April 4, 2009

Valley of the Lost by Vicki Delany

20. Valley of the Lost - second in the Constable Molly Smith series
by Vicki Delany
mystery, 2009
hardcover, 291 pages
finished, 3/28/09

One of the difficult things about this year of not buying books is that I knew the second in Vicki Delany's Molly Smith series was coming out and I'd have to wait to read it. But my old friend Kay very kindly sent me a copy of the book, for which I am so grateful! It was wonderful reading it while the characters and story from In The Shadow of the Glacier were still fresh in my mind. And what characters they are! In my reading experience, I haven't found anyone writing about children of the 'hippies' from the 1960s and 1970s. What a shock for Andy and Lucy (nicknamed Lucky) Smith when their son, Samwise becomes a lawyer for an oil company, and their daughter, Moonlight becomes a police officer. This situation provides interest in both books.

Valley of the Lost takes place in the fictional town of Trafalgar, a small town set against the Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia. One evening, Lucky comes out of her work at a women's support center and hears what sounds like a baby's cry. She follows the voice into the woods and finds a infant. Nearby is the body of a young woman. It appears that she has died of a heroin overdose, but closer inspection reveals restraint marks on her body which could mean she was murdered.

Lucky decides to take care of the baby boy until the family of the woman is found. Moonlight, who has renamed herself Molly, still lives at home and finds her family life disrupted by the crying baby who is up most of the night. Lucky is exhausted all the time but is determined to keep the baby out of foster care when a worker comes to discuss the matter.

The Smith family life, the life of the police sergeant, John Winters, and other continuing characters are what make this a great new mystery series. There is a lot going on in this little town, and the author touches upon the seedier elements that are juxtaposed with the natural beauty of the place. Those of us who live in beautiful small regions just have to read the local weekly police reports to learn that there are terrible things that happen. The yearly statistics from the local women's shelter in my home area tell a grim story. Vicki Delany doesn't shy away from these sorts of troubles.

Another facet which pervades places with gorgeous scenery is the building of second homes and resorts. The inevitable conflict between community residents is an ongoing situation in this series as well. Some favor growth and the money it will bring, while others want to maintain the status quo. How far will people go to make sure their side 'wins?'

Vicki Delany's mysteries are interesting and believable. The locale is terrific. And most importantly the characters are strong personalities whom the reader comes to care for, and think about, long after closing the books.

You may read Kay's review of the book here; and visit the author's homepage here.


  1. That sounds interesting. Another book about the children of hippies is Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud. The children get dragged of to Morocco.

  2. I've heard that title - I believe it's a movie with Kate Winslet?? Is the book fiction or nonfiction? I have a title on my to-be-read list called, All Fishes Come Home to Roost by Rachel Manija Brown about growing up in a hippie ashram. It's a fascinating subject with echoes that will go beyond one generation, I think.

  3. I recently read/reviewed a book in which the author (Judith Ryan Hendricks) writes about a young woman who was raised on a hippie commune in Albuquerque. Check out The Laws of Harmony, if you get a chance, Nan. I highly recommend it!

  4. Ooh, Nan ... I'm so tempted with this ... I've just ordered two more books from Amazon, I really must NOT add a third! But I shall put this on the ever-increasing LIST.
    I keep forgetting to mention a novelist whose three books I have enjoyed and in which you might be interested: Antony Eglin who is English but lives in America. He was first published by Constable Robinson, too. The first is called The Blue Rose, followed by The Lost Gardens, then The Water Lily Cross (as in hybrid, not a religious cross), and now, in 2009, the fourth called The Trail of the Wild Rose which I must now investigate further! Anthony Eglin is an authority on roses and his series are English Garden Mysteries. They are somewhat unbelievable but thorougbhly good; fun real page turners and filled with scenes of the English countryside. Great escapist stuff!
    Margaret Powling

  5. Thank you, Les and Margaret for the recommendations! I've noted them.

  6. Congratulations Nan, you've made it through the first quarter without buying any books! ;-)
    I gave you an award on my blog yesterday.

  7. Thanks, JoAnn! It's been a very interesting experience in a lot of ways. I'll stop by soon.

  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I love this series. You wrote a great review.

    You still seem to be doing well with your "read your own" challenge!

  9. Thank you, Kay! I so appreciate you sending me the book. My hope is that as it continues we hear more and more about the parents. There's a kind of sadness about them which would be interesting to delve into. I suspect it comes partly from the world not living up to their youthful aspirations. And one other thing I'd like her to change is the 'heroine in danger' situation. You mentioned in your review how it happens again in this second book. I'd like to see the author drop it now, so the reader doesn't come to expect it. I am doing well with my 'challenge.' There sure are a lot of books left on the shelves I haven't read yet. :<)

  10. Thank you very much, Nan. I'm so pleased you like the books. As for 'heroine in danger', I'm happy to say that you may find a different ending in the next book, Winter of Secrets (coming in Nov. from Poisoned Pen).

  11. Vicki, when I saw your comment, I said 'hooray' right out loud. I was so hoping you would find your way here. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note. I just love these books! I think you've hit on a subject and a place completely new, and so interesting. My area has a lot of people who moved here during the 60s and 70s, and they tranformed the towns with new businesses, art endeavors, restaurants. It is a wonderful, wonderful thing. They are active in town politics. And many of their children have stayed on as well.

    I'm really delighted that Miss Molly Moonlight won't face the same (shall we say?) predicament. And I can't believe you read that comment. :<)

    I thank you a million times for such great books and characters. (I hope the stalker/beater guy gets an extended jail term!)

  12. I just went through my storage closet - I think I will join you only call it the year of not buying clothes...ridiculous. And I never think of myself as a clotheshorse type person. However am amazed that you will go a year without buying a book...but of course, there is always the library :)

  13. Susan, I'm not going to the library either.:<)
    I am just reading my own books.


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