“In a Midnight Wood: A Jane Lawless Mystery” by Ellen Hart– Uncovering Secrets

Hart, Ellen. “In a Midnight Wood: A Jane Lawless Mystery”,  Minotaur, 2020.

Uncovering Secrets

Amos Lassen

Private investigator Jane Lawless and her best friend, Cordelia Thorn are off on a vacation to Castle Lake to visit Emma, their old friend. Emma is a participant in thetown’s local art festival and with that and the high school reunion (class of 1999), a lot of people are coming in.

In 1999, Emma’s boyfriend and Castle Lake high school senior Sam Romilly disappeared and rumor had it that his father murdered him.  Now, within a week of his class’s 20th reunion, Sam’s remains are found in someone else’s burial plot. Those who knew Sam–friends and enemies alike–will be in town for the much anticipated reunion and Jane has to separate the guilty from the innocent before something else happens.

Jane Lawless is a private investigator turned Minneapolis restaurateur who has a true-crime podcast innwhich she looks at cold cases. Now, back in northern Minnesota visiting with friends the case of a popular boy with an abusive father has come back to light. His remains including his backpack with wallet are found under a coffin. We quickly have plot swings between that night of murder and present day and we keep reading as quickly as possible.

While half the town suspected his father killed him and the other half thought he ran away but now the past has come back to haunt his classmates who have returned to town for their 20th reunion.

Jane begins to delve into the mystery and it seems there isn’t much faith in the local police getting to the root of what happened twenty years ago since they couldn’t solve the case back then either. Jane wants to find answers and help Emily and the town find closure to this terrible tragedy of years earlier.

If you are not familiar with Jane Lawless, it is time you meet her. This is the 26thbook in the series and each is a great read. Because it is a mystery, I can’t say much without spoiling the plot. I can say, however, that it is the perfect book for these shut in days of Covid-19. Ellen Hart is a wonderful writer and storyteller who is able to distinctly give us a sense of place and character.