Written on Sep 17, 2021
The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village cozy by Sheila Connolly. Released 21st Aug 2021 by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint, it's 304 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is an appealing small town cozy mystery with a small (easy to keep track of) ensemble cast. The usual eccentric characters are present along with a historic mansion renovation as part of a Victorian living history village along the same lines as Williamsburg or Jamestown. When an unexpected long dead skeleton is found hidden in an unused area of the mansion, the ensuing long ago murder mystery threatens modern day dangerous repercussions. The pool of suspects is small, and although the denouement and resolution are fairly easy to guess beforehand, they're well written and mostly satisfying. Even though it's the third book in the series, it works perfectly well as a standalone. The language is clean, there's a strong romance element, and little on-page violence.
This would be a good choice for lovers of light cozies. There are some potentially triggering plot elements including death of a child, infertility and loss, and threatened rape.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.