Maggie in White by Sharon Burch Toner
Published by: CreateSpace Publishing
Published: October 2014
Trade Paperback, 250 pages
Maggie and Allie take a shortcut through the mountains on their way to a getaway weekend in Southern California, get caught in a blizzard and slide off the road. Ever resourceful, they leave their car in the ravine and set out to find help, stumbling upon remote Sanctuary Inn. Happy to find warmth and shelter to wait out the storm in a beautiful Inn, they discover that it has everything one could possibly want in a weekend retreat, friendly, concerned owners, delicious homemade food, a well-stocked library, beautiful paintings, exercise equipment, a greenhouse for fresh produce, 6 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats and as the narrator says, “it reeks of money.” Maggie calls the Inn “never, never land.”
The narration then switches to Paris 1942 where Nils Von Pfeffer, a curator of art at the Jeu de Palme museum “rescues” 13 valuable pieces of art that the Nazis deem degenerate and want destroyed. He and his wife narrowly escape the Nazis, immigrate to America and set up an art gallery with the stolen artwork. This is the very touching backstory to the novel. The reader will love the family letters detailing the events.
Back at the Inn, Maggie and Allie meet the handful of seemingly normal guests; but then dead bodies begin to appear, one in a horse stall, another in the greenhouse; everyone becomes a suspect and some people are not who they seem to be. As in all of the previous Maggie books, amateur sleuthing takes place by Maggie and Allie. Both are getting better at it. Allie even has the presence of mind to take pictures of the crime scene with her cell phone!
I loved the description of the horses at the Inn, particularly the two Arabians, Rafik and Laziz. How wonderful to walk into a barn and be greeted by horses! “And Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew his breath over it, and created the horse…Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword. Oh horse” says a Bedouin legend quoted by the author. Beautiful!
The mystery kept me turning the pages. I was particularly interested in how the author intertwined the events in Europe during the war years with the present-day story. Very imaginative, but believable.
This is the author’s most ambitious work and in my opinion, her best, as she successfully weaves in mystery, murder, art forgery, Nazi intrigue, romance, adventure on the high seas and the ever-present close relationship between mother and daughter. And it’s an entirely clean read.
Note: This book is rated C = clean read.
Reviewed by Sandra
Disclosure: Thanks to Sharon Burch Toner for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.
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