Hilltop House
by L. A. Shute
Tate Publishing

"He's used to helping other people and doesn't want them to have to help him now."

"Now" means "yes" to Packard Wildeberry since a stroke compromised his speech pattern. Though he didn't say yes to the move to the elder care facility, Hilltop House, he vows to make the best of the situation. In residence, it doesn't take Packard long to step into the mystery surrounding the mansion once owned in the 1800s by Captain Livingston Pinkum (better known as Pinks, the Pirate).

Packard, with help from his son, Chip, and social worker, Tillie, slowly reveals the history of the house to the interim director. The tales of pirates, doubloons, and secret passages seem to dovetail with the discovery of a red gem and old Spanish coins in the outdoor courtyard. Later, the kidnapping of the young son of the new totally unsuitable director adds to the puzzle. The elderly man's recollection of childhood visits and several years as a carpenter making changes to the old mansion is hampered by his difficulty with speaking. But when soon-to-be-retired Deputy Wiley comes on the scene, they manage to prove that two old minds can work together quite well. Revelation of long-kept secrets and a more modern-day culprit restore not only the future of the facility and rejuvenates the small town, but also gives Packard a needed dose of renewed self-esteem.

This author has presented an enduring, realistic character in this first book in the Hilltop House series. With a light but thorough touch, he has created a cozy who-done-it. Shute manages, with his fine eye for detail to offer up an almost silent main character who draws everyone in to root for him. Readers will enjoy participating in this tale as history and clues are shared. Packard Wildeberry, and Shute, are both worth following as they step into the eagerly awaited next adventure.

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