Longing Is Violet Dusk (Hazel Dean, #2) by Josalyn McAllister
This riveting new addition to the Hazel Dean Mystery series hooked me from the start!
When one of her friends goes missing while on a solo backpacking trip in the nearby national forest, Hazel Dean immediately joins the search to find her. Nina Mitchell was a troubled young mother with four children under the age of nine and had long been a member of the book club Hazel hosted at her bookstore, Books and Chocolate.
For some time, however, Hazel had suspected Nina was struggling with post-partum depression. With her ability to "see" a person's emotions as colors, she had noticed the young woman's aura swirled with dark and disturbing shades. Hazel felt she might have had a hand in Nina's disappearance because, after their last meeting, Hazel had given her a copy of the classic Anna Karenina when it had gleamed with the same color combination that Nina had exuded that night. Hazel feared that the book, about a dissatisfied young wife engaging in an extra-marital affair, who eventually commits suicide, may have struck too close to home and given Nina ideas for a terrible path out of her situation.
Longing Is Violet Dusk is the second book in author Josalyn McAllister's cozy mystery series featuring bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Hazel Randolph Dean, and I was immediately absorbed by this excellent follow-up to the series starter, Guilt Is Midnight Blue. I enjoyed the smart and tense plot and the sprinkling of book titles and other literary references throughout the story.
The search for the missing Nina is time-sensitive, and you can feel the urgency. For most of the book, there is absolutely no sign of the woman, no clues whatsoever. However, there are big personalities at play in her story, and many have a load of regret weighing them down and guiding their actions. Nina is confused about what her future holds. Lance and his brother, Dansby, regret leaving young loves behind. I regretted having to put the book down to do life stuff.
Hazel, worried over the situation Nina's children are in, is also having to come to terms with her own children moving into young adulthood. Elias, who apparently has played his cards really close to the vest, surprises his mother with the realization he has a girlfriend. Emma is a sweet girl, but she has a bit of an Eddie Haskell vibe going that made me laugh out loud a couple of times.
The setting in the quaint small town of Red Gap, Georgia, is homey, comfortable, and picturesque, especially as it is nestled among the foothills of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, where much of the action takes place. It also has a great bookstore downtown!
Hazel does a great job ferreting out suspects' motives and developing interesting scenarios for what might have happened to Nina. The clues point in a couple of directions but eventually, all lead to the truth. The story keeps up a lively pace as everyone is worried Nina is lost or hurt, and early spring weather brings a storm and dropping temperatures at night to the search area. Uncle John keeps Hazel involved in the case with special tasks he assigns her, so there is plenty of amateur detection.
I recommend LONGING IS VIOLET DUSK to cozy mystery readers who enjoy a solid mystery with a touch of the mystical or paranormal in their stories, decisive, organized female protagonists, and a lovely small-town Georgia setting.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.