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Lea Wait

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Member Since: Dec, 2010

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Publisher:  Simon & Schuster - Pocket Books Type: 


Copyright:  2003 ISBN-13:  1416587713

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Antique print dealer Maggie Summer's old college roommate and her husband have invited her to come to Maine to see their "new" home, built in 1774. A Maine vacation + antiquing sounds great. But when Maggie arrives, she finds her friends acting strangely, a series of bizarre accidents in the home, and perhaps even a ghost. The Maine fog definitely is concealing a mystery ...

August is the perfect time for antiquing in Maine. And, it turns out, for murder.

Amy and Drew Douglas have just bught a creaky but gorgeous Maine home built in 1774. The house, sitting high on a hill overlooking a river, is great, but the neighbors, who think the property should never have been put up for sale, are a problem. Until now, the house has always belonged to one formidable Maine family. Amy and Drew are New Yorkers, from away. They don't belong.

Hostile neighbors are just the start of the problems. Who is behind a series of strange fires and bizarre accidents. Where is the baby Amy hears crying in the night? Why do she and Drew want so obsessively to have a child of their own? And what is the relationship between Drew and an attractive teenager named Crystal?

As Maggie searches for answere, she runs into fellow antiques dealer Will Brewer, a man she is met at an antique show in New York State several months before, and is attracted to. But can she trust him now? He, too, is a part of the family that always owned Amy and Drew's home. Is his loyalty to Maggie or to his family?

When a body turns up in the backyard, Maggie's Maine holiday turns into a hunt for a killer. Who will tell Maggie the truth? Everything comes back to the house on the hill.  What tragedies has it seem? What sorrows are soon to come?  If only walls could talk ... or maybe they will ...

Inspired to use her own home (built in 1774) as a fictional setting, Lea Wait combines history and mystery in the richly nuanced and immensely entertaining Shadows mystery.

"The old Brewer house has been there as long as any, and a lot of people who live here have roots there. A few folks ..: The woman paused. "A few folks were a bit peeved that it was sold out of the family. But that wasn't anything to do with you or your friends. That's family bueinss."
Shirley's scissors nipped loudly and rapidly several times.
"So does the house have ghosts, then?" Maggie asked.
"Some say it does. But Shirley's told you straight. No murders or suicides anyone can remember, and there's folks here should know. I'm the oldest now, I'd wager, but I can't think of any violence done in that house outside the usual family squabbles and a couple of women died in childbirth. But that used to be pretty common. Captain Eben Brewer, back in the fifties "-- Maggie realized the woman meant the 1850s -- "He lost three wives in birthing. Couldn't hardly find a fourth to marry, but my grandmother, Becca Giles, she said `Three's a charm, no point in looking to the past,' and she married him and had seven children and outlived the captain."
"So there are ghosts?" Maggie tried to get back to the point before it was totally lost in memories.
"Some say there's a woman walks the halls. A woman with a baby. Haven't heard the story in years, though. I don't think Charlotte paid them any heed."
Maggie shivered slightly. "Maybe the ghost is one of those women who died in childbirth."
"Could be. Might be. That's as good a guess as any. But you tell your friend those ghosts ain't never bothered no one. That woman and her baby, they're quiet spirits. Some woman over to Brunsiwick I heared had some force in her house that knocked pictures off the wall and dishes off her cabinet shelves. Brewer house ghosts are civilized. Never bothered no one."
"Nettie, that's nonsense. Ghosts can't be civilized. It's against their nature." Shirley stood up and surveyed the ring of dark brown hair now surrounding Maggie's chair.
"Some are the kind to bother folks, and some are not. Brewer ghosts ain't the meddlin' sort."
Shirley looked at the older woman. "Those ghosts wouldn't bother kinfolks, I believe. But these people from New York ain't kinfolk. They're from away. Ghosts might be uncomfortable living with them."

Professional Reviews

Crime - Shadows on the Coast of Maine (New York Times)
If the history-haunted Colonial house in Shadows on the Coast of Maine has more character than any person, living or dead in Lea Wait's whodunit,it's probably because the author lives in such a house in Maine. And if the amatuer sleuth, a dealer in antique prints named Maggie Summer, shows more enthusiasm for rooting out treasures in the attic than she does for the incidental chore of finding a killer, it's likely because the author is herself an antiques dealer. Even when she skimps on genre protocol, Wait charmingly attends to the delightful business of going to auctions and uncovering a Colonial-era kitchen fireplace - among other entertaining things Maggie does when she visits a friend and discovers that she and her husband are beset with more than the usual problems of remodeling an old house. But whenever Maggie can tear herself away from such pesky distractions as mysterious fires, phantom babies crying in the night and the body of a teenager out behind the barn, she applies her knowledge of antique documents to illuminate fascinating secrets of local legend.

Booklist - Shadows on the Coast of Maine
There's tremendous charm in this second Shadows novel, especially in the Maine location and the eighteenth century house that is central to the story. Maggie Summer deals in prints, and she is also a professor of history. Her old college buddy, Amy, and her husband recently bought a 200-year-old house on the Maine coast. Amy is spooked by strange noises and the amount of work the old house needs; Maggie is amazed at the interconnections among Amy's neighbors, to the house, and to each other. Even Maggie's current swain, antique tool dealer Will Brewer,is distantly related to the original oweners. When a local teenager who has been working with Amy to get the house in order is murdered, everyone is suspect. Each chapter starts with a description of a print from Maggie's stock, and they dovetail elegantly with plot developments and not a few historical family secrets. A fast and engaging read.

From the Shadows emerges an Engaging Summer Read
(Maine - Portland Sunday Telegram
Lea Wait's new mystery, Shadows on the Coast of Maine, fits the bill for summer reading. It takes place in Madoc, Maine, a town not unlike Edgecomb, where Wait lives. Maggie Summer's college friend, Amy Douglas, has recetly moved to an 18th century home above the Madoc River. Maggie, who at 38 was recently widowed, is a historian and antique-print dealer. In school, she was the messy disorganized one, while Amy was always in control. Even in college, she made a daily to-do list. Amy worked for an ad agency in New York City until she and her husband Drew, a stockbroker, decided to make their lives anew in Maine.
Only life anew in a 1774 house is never simple. There's a roof that needs fixing and that's probaby the least of it, as far as repairs go. There's also the whisper of ghosts, the cries of phantom baies in the night, and, even more troubing to Amy, the spector of infertility that seems to be driving a wedge between her and Drew, even as they furnish a complete baby's room without a child in sight.
It's a story many who move in Maine have heard -- and more than a few have experienced. Life in Maine seems perfect, dreamlike, until the many realities of rural life take hold. It's not always easy to mask one's trailing fears and insecurities in the openness of a small town.
But when you're an obvious New Yorker and you've moved into a house central to the lives of one of the largest families in town, a house sold out of the family for the first time in its more than 200-year life-span, there's a spotlight on you that's impossible to duck. No matter how much good will and inocent enthusiasm you have for your new life, the town's watchful eyes are not always friendly.
For Amy and Drew, disaster doesn't so much strike as unfold, one questionable decision at a time. Maggie stands on the sidelines, curiously watching, wondering, eventually delving. Much of the time she's assisted by her friend Will Brewer, a fellow antiques dealer she knows from the circuit. He's visiting his great-aunt Nettie who just happens to live in the same town as Amy. In fact, Aunt Nettie is so intimately connected to the Douglas house that she can tell the family what items -- be they fireplaces or wide pine floorbaords - lie behind more modern linolen and plaster.
But it's not long before the couple's renovation concerns get overshadowed by other issues, namely, a body discovered in the field behind the Doughlas house, a body whose demise clearly came at the hadns of another. There are vague reasons for several members of the every-widening cirlce around Amy and Drew to have done the deed - but are there reasons enough?
Wait knows her old Maine houses and the power of the home in rural Maine. She alos knows the rippling tremors former inhabitants seem to leave within the walls of such homes.
Furthermore, Wait, who actually does own an antique print business, knows how to write. Shadows on the Coast of Maine is a breezy page-turner, filled with engaging reference to Maine and the antique print business.

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