CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY
The Wild Rose Press, Inc. (2020)
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (09/2020)
Randy Overbeck’s “Crimson at Cape May” is the second installment of the Haunted Shores Mysteries. Protagonist Darrell Henshaw is not just a history teacher and a football coach; he is also a paranormal sensitive. Unfortunately, his paranormal abilities land him in hot water back in his hometown, costing him both his job and his girlfriend. Henshaw flees to Cape May and is offered the opportunity to coach a summer football camp where he meets a young player whose older sister, Josie, has gone missing. Deciding that he wants to help the troubled teen, Darrell has no idea that it will end up landing him in even more hot water. Darrell is contacted by the “Haunted Bride,” one of Cape May’s resident specters, for help. Not only to uncover the secrets surrounding her death, but to also help other girls who are in danger. Darrell meets local teen runaway Cassie, who has paranormal abilities of her own. Together, they team up to solve the mystery of the Haunted Bride, which might just save Josie and countless other young girls, as well.
Though “Crimson at Cape May” is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone if need be. While the first book no doubt gives further insight into the characterizations of Darrell and his girlfriend, Erin, and provides details surrounding one of the subplots of the second book, which is Darrell’s efforts to get his old job back, the second book’s mystery itself does not have any relevance to the first one. Personally, I love these kinds of series, because even though the same main characters are presented in each new book, the adventure is always different and fresh.
Overbeck’s novel is paced well for its genre, offering readers a suspenseful tone while also allowing time to mention important details and observations made by Darrell. Once you really get a hold on what the main mystery is and what Darrell is working to try and fix, I found myself reading lengthier chunks of the book at a time. I think I may have read the entire second half in one night! I did find that sometimes Darrell’s narration lagged in places, mostly when he was recalling his more mundane day-to-day movements. There just seemed to be some details with him going about his day that could have been either lightened or left out in my opinion. For the most part, though, “Crimson at Cape May” does a good job of sticking with the main plot and ensuring that it keeps moving at the pace needed for a mystery novel.
I think the subject matter of the book’s specific mystery is important in today’s mainstream media, too, because sex trafficking of young girls is something that is overlooked at an unprecedented rate. “Crimson at Cape May” does a great job of showcasing how even the most prominent members of a community cannot be excluded from suspicion when the evidence points toward their involvement. Especially in the wake of cases such Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein, it speaks to the importance of all of us to be vigilant for suspicious behaviors, and to watch out for those in our communities who might be vulnerable to being targeted by these traffickers. The book, therefore, fits into mainstream social awareness, but not in a way that is biased, overly graphic, or obtuse.
One thing that I think is most recommendable about this novel is the fact that it can be presented to readers from a wide range of not only genres, but ages. I could see this being found enjoyable by readers in high school looking for a good mystery or adventure, as much as I can by older readers. The paranormal aspects also aren’t presented so heavily that they might turn away readers who “don’t believe” in ghosts or aren’t necessarily interested in those topics. “Crimson at Cape May” is a part adventure, part thriller, part paranormal mystery that definitely has the ability to draw in a large audience of readers.
I know that I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more Haunted Shores Mysteries from Randy Overbeck!