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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Skeletons in the Walls: A Review of The Secret in the Wall by Ann Parker

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

We’re going back to our roots this week. (Not that we’ve strayed far from them.) I got another mystery read for ya! You know I love a good mystery. And y’all do too since you keep coming back for all my mystery reviews.

With that, let’s meet this week’s book. Please welcome to the stage The Secret in the Wall by Ann Parker.

Book cover of The Secret in the Wall by Ann Parker.

I’ve had this book waiting in the wings for a while. And I’m very glad I picked it up when I did. As I’m writing today’s review, Spooky Season is still in full swing, and while I most certainly love the horror genre more than life itself at times, I’m glad I took the time to read The Secret in the Wall for a little palette cleanser. Part murder mystery, part treasure hunt, this book has it all. So let’s crack into it.

Stefon SNL.
Boss Babes, gold, war, secrets in the wall; it's got it all!

As always, a spoiler alert is in order. This is your one and only warning. Long time readers know I simply love to spoil basically the entirety of the books I read. Synopsis time now.

First things first, The Secret in the Wall is the eighth entry in the Silver Rush Mysteries series. I’ve not read any of the other entries in this series so to the best of my knowledge this book is picking up close to where the last one left off. Inez Stannert has gone into business with Moira Krause. The pair have bought the townhouse that connects to Moira’s home and they plan to knock a few walls down to double the size of Moira’s boardinghouse. Historic Boss Babes right here.

20th century squad walk.
How I imagine Inez walks around the city.

The sale goes smoothly, our Boss Babes have no trouble buying the connecting house, it’s after the sale is complete that things start to go wrong. Upon knocking the first hole in the wall, a fully decomposed body tumbles from the wall with a bag of gold. Chaos ensues, the cops come, they’re seemingly more interested in the money than the corpse, and boarders begin leaving Moira’s boardinghouse. Things are not good for our two Boss Babes.

Seeing as the cops are more interested in the money instead of doing their job, Inez takes matters into her own hands. She gathers the personal effects of the deceased, she goes out to interview people to figure out who exactly was found in the wall, she digs into San Francisco’s Civil War history, and enlists the help of private investigator Wolter de Bruijn whom she has history with. While Inez is busy doing all this, her ward, Antonia, and Moira’s daughter, Charlotte, manage to find their way into the new house and discover some hidden secrets. Like hidden rooms, Confederate documents, and maybe some treasure.

But how are all these things connected? How did someone end up dead between the houses? How does the money tie into the Civil War? And who was our poor skeleton? Find out in The Secret in the Wall.

Historical fiction? Check. Strong female lead? Check. Skeletons in the wall? Check. Intriguing premise? Check. I’m in. I’m sold. I love the premise of this novel. A skeleton in the wall will get me every time. And the wall skeleton proved to be worth my time. At first, I simply wanted to know who was in the wall. When that was revealed fairly early on, I was too invested in the rest of the story to give up on it. I needed to know how the victim ended up in the wall, not just their identity. So yeah, I’m a fan of this premise and mystery.

Shut up and take my money.
Me when I stumbled across this series.

I do have to say though, this book is on the verge of having Too Many Characters Syndrome. I think if I had read some of the other books in this series then I wouldn’t have had this issue. Nearly every character is reoccurring. Long term readers of the Silver Rush Mysteries series have met and known these characters for quite some time at this point, I have not. There’s just a lot of characters and my tiny bird brain took a long time to figure out who was who. I’m new to this series! Give me time to get to know the minor characters! I know who Antonia and Inez are, same with Charlotte, Moira, and Wolter, but there’s a lot of minor characters ok!? And please don’t ask me everyone’s exact relationship cause I don’t have all the answers.

One of these days I will make a character cheat sheet when there’s a book with Too Many Character Syndrome, today is not that day. Spoiler alert for next week’s review, that book also has Too Many Characters Syndrome and I didn’t make a character cheat sheet for that book either. Back to this week's read though.

Overall I did enjoy The Secret in the Wall. I was invested in the story as I said, but I didn’t find this to be an exceptional read. I love Inez as the protagonist. You know me, I love a strong female lead. Something I always look for in my reads. And again, there’s an intriguing premise.

Betty White with a massive wine glass.
Take a shot every time I say "interesting premise."

I’m also a fan of the novel’s prose. Ann Parker created a detailed picture of turn of the century San Francisco. Overall though, things were simply…basic. I don’t have a better word to describe my thoughts.

The prose and strong female lead are definitely highlights of the novel. I think my issue with this novel feeling basic comes from the mystery itself. The identity of the body is pretty easy to guess after a certain point. When that happens, the mystery turns to the why. Why was this body left in the walls? This question was easy to figure out too after a point. I didn’t find the mystery challenging. I like to give my brain a workout, that’s why I read and review so many mysteries. The Secret in the Wall was not a hard mystery to solve.

Again, this novel is good. Despite being an easy to solve mystery, and the mixed signals I’m throwing around in this review, I did like this read. I liked the characters, the setting, the prose; I liked it all. It’s good. It’s just not exceptional. I would still recommend this series though. I do believe the strengths out way any issues I have with the book. Plus the character issue would solve itself had I read literally any other book in the series.

With that, I shall bid you all adieu. Thank you for joining me today. I hope you all had a good time discussing this little mystery. As I’ve already said, I have another good review coming your way next week. See ya then!

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!


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