A Shred of Evidence, the first novel in Kathy Herman’s new Seaport Suspense series, is a spin off from her Baxter series. Ellen Jones, former editor of the Baxter Daily News, and her husband Guy have settled down in the town of Seaport, Florida, where Ellen spends her days working on a novel while Guy travels back and forth between Seaport and Tallahassee for the law firm he’s recently joined as a partner.
Ellen loves her new life but bemoans her lack of friends and misses the fast-paced newspaper business. Then a chance encounter in a supermarket parking lot draws her into the orbit of a depressed young woman and her toddler daughter. Finding that the young woman is new in town and has no friends, Ellen impulsively invites her home for a glass of lemonade.
Shortly after meeting Julie Hamilton and her adorable little girl, Sarah Beth, Ellen overhears a conversation that seems to indicate Julie’s husband could be a child abuser. Connecting the dots of Julie’s apparent depression and her newly acquired knowledge about Julie’s husband, Ross, Ellen feels compelled to take what she thinks she knows to the local police chief.
Though the police chief assures her that the police will look into the matter, Ellen still worries about Sarah Beth’s safety and continues to investigate Ross. She finds no evidence that Ross is a child abuser, but she does discover some disturbing information about Ross’s past that only serves to increase her anxiety. Then Sarah Beth mysteriously disappears and Ellen is convinced Ross Hamilton’s to blame.
A Shred of Evidence will definitely keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens to Sarah Beth and what’s really going on with Ross Hamilton. Despite being a page-turner, however, the book suffers from a heavy-handed application of its moral theme and a lack of plausibility. Two unlikely subplots are included, more, it seems, to reinforce the story’s moral than for any other reason. In addition, the misunderstanding that puts Ross Hamilton under suspicion of being a child abuser could have been cleared up too easily to have led to all that follows.
These flaws notwithstanding, readers will enjoy A Shred of Evidence, and Herman’s fans who’ve read the Baxter series will have fun catching up on Ellen and Guy’s new life in Florida. – Linda Whitlock, Christian Book Previews.com
Ellen Jones, first introduced in the Baxter series, enjoys a leisurely lunch at a Seaport restaurant where she overhears a private conversation at the table next to her—and disturbing accusations involving the husband of a woman she has recently befriended. When Ellen goes to the husband’s employer and cannot get answers, she digs through old newspaper articles and stumbles onto information too frightening to keep to herself. Will Ellen become enmeshed in speculation and gossip—or will she take the lead and become a catalyst for truth and healing?