Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge
I now want to live in the Hamptons. Meg Barrett has taken me into her world of interior design, as well as cozy bungalows and I am now ready to hire her to decorate one for me to live in beside the ocean.
Kathleen Bridge has once again painted the picture of utter beauty that is the Hamptons. The lifestyle, elegance of the people and nature of living by the ocean have been sold to the reader. We get to see new locations that astound and amaze in the second installment of the Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery as we are taken to the grandiose home that is Sandringham. Oh what an amazing place!
In the process of helping clear out some older bungalows we find our first of many mysterious hidden rooms. This one, however, has the skeletal remains of a man that has been missing for some twenty years. This is only the beginning to Sandringham’s many mysteries. As Meg and Elle continue working with the family, more secrets ooze from the walls. Meg is literally the grown up Nancy Drew in this book. I found myself reading this, jealous of her pursuits of such a fantastic riddle.
The story was gripping, full of literal twists and turns and enough family secrets to keep one researching for years. The question throughout the story was always who had Uncle Harry’s best interest in mind and who was after the lost Warhol painting, the money and estate. The guilty would start looking innocent and the innocent, guilty. It was a wonderful rollercoaster of confusion. To add to the confusion, I had to question the fictitiousness of the writing. It all sounded so plausible that such a painted existed that I had to ask Kathleen. Who knew!
This story was not only a mystery on the surface with the sleuth, victims and suspects, but ran much deeper for me. It was psychological. It seemed that the hidden passages, discovery of bodies and the unknown fate of her housing situation showed the outward appearance of what Meg was struggling with inwardly. As an interior designer, she goes searching for the past, for items to fill a void in not only a person’s space, but also their life. She helps them create a story, a world that they want to live in and to escape to. At the same time, it fills voids in her own life.
She misses having a place to call home, a person to call her own after a bitter separation and she is mentally trying to figure out these hidden nuances in her personality and come out on the other end like one of her design creations, a beautiful statement that is one of a kind and looks put together with everything in the perfect spot. That is hard to do as a human and I think she will realize this as she comes into her own. But, I think she is making great progress in this book and I look forward to seeing her continue to develop as a character in the hands of Kathleen Bridge.
To keep her mind off the legal battle over the oceanfront cottage she’s trying to buy, Meg agrees to help her friend inventory and clear out furniture from the massive Montauk estate of wealthy art broker Harrison Falks. But the job takes a terrifying turn when Meg discovers a skeleton in a hidden room in one of the estate’s many bungalows. The remains turn out to be those of Harrison’s son, who went missing nearly twenty years ago—along with one of his father’s Warhol paintings.
As Meg delves into the Hamptons’ pop art past, she gets drawn into the sketchy goings-on and family drama at the estate. But when Meg makes no bones about solving the crime, she just might become the subject of the killer’s next installation.
About The Author:
Kathleen Bridge, author of Hearse and Gardens and Better Homes and Corpses, started her writing career working at the Michigan State University News in East Lansing, Michigan. She is the author and photographer of an antiques reference guide, Lithographed Paper Toys, Books, and Games.
She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and has taught creative writing classes at Bryant Library in Roslyn, New York. Kathleen is also an antiques and vintage dealer in Long Island, New York, and has contributed to Country Living magazine.