Secrets of Hallstead House is a debut novel with a Gothic feel, but the mystery is not that tough to imagine once it is solved. Hallstead House is set on a remote island, and has very few residents. There is the big manor house with its wealthy widowed owner, a caretaker couple in their cottage, and a boatman. The lonely location has all the eerie elements you can imagine in such solitude.
Macy Stoddard is trained to be a nurse. She is grieving her parents’ death in an accident, and wants to get away from New York City life to somewhere quiet. Her latest assignment seems just the thing. Her new client is a wealthy old woman who is recovering from hip surgery. Macy will be living with her on a remote island, and taking care of her needs. Macy meets a reticent boat man who tells her that her presence might not be welcome.
Hallstead Island and the house are very gloomy, and projected to be so. The house is huge, and the housekeeper is a regular Mrs. Danvers. She is nasty to Macy from the get go. Her husband is no better. They try hard to not make her feel welcome and create numerous hurdles for her. Alexandria Hallstead more than makes up for all the unpleasantness. She is a vibrant woman in her 60s who doesn’t like to be sick. She heads a large oil company and is very friendly with Macy. Alexandria, or Alex has a sad life. Her daughter died many years ago and she has recently lost her husband. She is very taken with Macy, and their grief is a common thread.
Although remote, there are many visitors to Hallstead House. Alex’s son-in-law is married again and visits very often with his wife. Alex has a nephew who works with her, and an older friend and lawyer. Macy is busy enough taking care of Alex and being part of the social life on the island.
Very soon, attempts are made on Macy’s life. Strange events occur which make Macy investigate some old mysteries. What she finds is going to be the biggest shock of her life. In the end, the truth takes a backseat to saving lives.
Hallstead House is very interesting in the first part, but the plot turns predictable pretty soon. The mystery is still kept well, and it is not easy to guess the culprit. The historical flavor and slightly sinister aspect add to the atmosphere. Mystery lovers will love this book, and read it into the night!