What do you do when someone you just met, and quite possibly find attractive, disappears? That’s how The Red Sedan opens: with a crisis. Michael, the American protagonist of this cozy mystery novel, is biking around England. The previous night was agood one; he spent an evening over dinner and two bottles of winewith a beautiful, intriguing, and blonde woman named Elisabeth. Although they hit it off, there are some things about her that make him wonder. He can’t quite place her accent. She avoids certain questions about her time in America and dodges his attempts to poke further. But that’s all good, Michael thinks. Those things can work themselves out in time.
Unfortunately, time is running out. The next day, biking off a hangover, Michael nearly loses his life as a truck narrowly misses him. Then, just as he absorbs the shock of his near-miss, he spots Elisabeth, trapped in the passenger seat of a red sedan, her eyes pleading for help. Michael had planned on spending more time with her, possibly another dinner that evening. But then she disappeared.
Something’s wrong. Michael knows it, but he just can’t seem to piece together exactly what is happening. Somebody has to help her; there’s no reason it shouldn’t be him. He’s kind, determined, and single-mindedly pursues the mystery before him. Who is Elisabeth? Hasn’t he seen her before? And what do these evil men want with her? Just as it seems that Michael has these answers, she’s gone once again, leaving only more mysteries. Michael relentlessly tracks down the clues, but the story keeps growing. And that’s where things get interesting. It’s not just about Elisabeth, but about something deeper, older, and inestimably valuable. Michael’s chase leads him into a mystery that spans a century and two continents. Eventually he finds himself at an estate in the Napa Valley, tracking down a secret that a family has held for generations. Where it leads him is unexpected, and a pleasant surprise.
The Red Sedan takes us on a worldwide journey in our armchairs. It’s a book meant for warm summer evenings. It immediately draws in the reader and creates enough mystery to intrigue, but not terrorize. This book isn’t the kind that will make you lose sleep with worry; it’s the kind of book that goes with a warm cup of tea and might make you stay up until midnight. Wonderfully, we are given little tidbits throughout to sustain us, like a nice biscuit to go with our tea. Each nibble made me more curious and eager to see just exactly how things would work out.
I’ve read mystery novels that forget characters, leave clues that go nowhere, and forget entire plot points. If that’s your thing, that’s fine, but this isn’t the book for you. Brien Crothers, a. k. a. Chance Moon, shows us a good time in his first foray into fiction. He seamlessly stitches up the book, making sure that I didn’t feel let down or deceived. It’s a good read, and a good example of the mystery genre.
The novel’s locality makes it enjoyable as well. A long-time Lake County resident, Chance Moon brings in much of what he has personally seen in his life. If you look closely, it’s easy to find several references to Lake County and its people. And that’s what makes local fiction enjoyable. We, being residents of such a beautiful place, get to enjoy parts of it in our books. So wait for a Saturday morning when you don’t feel like getting out of bed, or a day when you don’t feel like going outside. Then brew up a nice cup of tea with some butter cookies and crack open this book. It’s perfect for an armchair vacation.