A Gem of a Problem (Emma Berry Murray River Mystery Book 1)
by Irene Sauman
Print Length: 223 pages
Publisher: Jakada Books; 2 edition (March 15, 2017)
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Historical
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
As if losing Sam wasn’t enough, now she must deal with what he has left behind.
Emma hadn’t known Sam was delivering (smuggling?) a package across the Murray River border between the colonies, but the package, containing something of great value, is missing after the sinking of the paddle steamer Mary B. She doesn’t believe the Major’s story of why. It makes no sense. But his threats are real enough.
If only Daniel wasn’t blaming her for everything. She will have to travel a lonely road in her efforts to locate the missing item before time runs out. Who is lying to her, who is telling the truth? Will what she finds be what she is looking for? And more importantly, will it be what the Major expects?
Emma loved Sam when they married but things didn’t turn out as nicely as she hoped. Emma tried to settle Sam down but his impulsive and careless ways continued. Now he is dead after sinking their paddle steamer in a reckless channel race. Emma is trying to recover from his death, the damaged steamer and the loss of her baby when an intimidating neighbor, Major, claims that Sam had a valuable package to deliver. The Major wants it back or payment for the loss. His threats extend to her family and their reputation so she must try to resolve the problem.
The only person that Emma feels she can trust to help her is Daniel, Sam’s brother and co-owner of the Mary B. Emma is flustered by Daniel’s anger, but she is determined to hunt for the missing package and get repairs moving on the steamer whether he approves or not. Emma begins her inquiries, stirring up some troubles, but uncovering clues. She follows the clues up the channel, standing on her own, meeting new people and old acquaintances as she unravels the truth of the mystery.
The setting in 1870's Australia provides a unique and wonderfully rich backdrop for the story. The writing is straightforward, smooth with steady movement which makes for an easy read. Emma is a lovely, engaging character. I liked her determination combined with caring and gentleness towards others. There is a fine tension between Daniel and Emma that makes the reader wonder about their true feelings.
I look forward to reading more of Emma’s adventures on the channel and to learning what develops. I recommend this to mystery readers, especially those who like historical settings.
Source: NetGalley 2017. This qualifies for my 2018TBR, NetGalley and Alphabet Challenges; Also I Spy Reading Challenge – Umbrella on Cover.