Keys to Nowhere by Dorothy H. Hayes is the 3rd volume in the Carol Rossi Mystery series.
Read Leigh Neely's review of Keys to Nowhere, and make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win this new Carol Rossi Mystery!
Carol Rossi is one of my favorite characters. I’ve read all the books in this series by Dorothy H. Hayes, beginning with Murder at the P&Z. Rossi is an investigative reporter in a small Connecticut town, and no matter where the crime occurs, she manages to find ways to use her journalism techniques to help solve it.
Things are different now. Rossi is at home with a new baby she adores and happy to be truly living in “Peaceable Kingdom,” which is what her husband Jerry calls their farm filled with rescue animals. She may be older than your average new mom, but she’s loving the feel of her daughter in her arms and the beauty of sharing a child with her beloved husband.
All of that changes when Vera Dearborn, a fellow choir member from the local Episcopal church, arrives in a distraught state. Vera’s sister had taken Vera’s two daughters on an Arizona vacation, and the trio had been calling Vera every morning and every evening—but now they’ve missed two calls, and Vera is frantic.
She stared at me. “When I didn’t hear from her last night, I called the Tucson Inn on North Sabino Canyon Road, Rossi. They weren’t there!” She stared down at the floor. “Did I get it wrong? That’s what I’m wondering. Did she say something else?” She looked at me again. “I don’t know if they were just going to drive over to Sabino Canyon for a hike before they moved into the Tucson Inn. But even if they did, they should have checked in last night! Oh, I didn’t stop calling all night, talking to people there at the inn. Driving them crazy. The desk clerk said she’d call me if they checked in. I spoke to a manager this morning who also promised to call me if they checked in.
“And here it is, Sunday, almost eleven o’clock— eight, their time, with the three-hour time difference—and I’ve heard nothing from the manager at the Tucson Inn! Or my sister since yesterday morning!”
As many mystery writers do, Hayes introduces us to her villain at the beginning of the book, so we readers know what has happened to the aunt and her two nieces. And because we’re in on it, we know how important it is for Rossi to help.
But how can she leave her precious new baby? How will her husband manage his full-time job as a police officer and keep things going on the farm without Rossi to help him? Rossi struggles with these questions while also being kept awake thinking about Vera’s daughters and their aunt being in danger. All the while, the Tucson police are finding no indication that any foul play is involved.
Why wasn’t I totally honest with Vera? Tell her that I didn’t feel up to this? That I wanted to stay home with my new baby? My body wasn’t even back to normal yet.
Breathing in Leonora’s heavenly scent, I tried to fathom a way to bring her along with me, but to expose my baby to God knows what? All investigative stories led to strange places and long hours, I reminded myself, and in two cases they led to violence.
No, I told myself, while I picked up Leonora, taking in her animated face, I decided missing her for a few days was the best of all possible worlds. I cast a glance at Vera, who was worried that I wouldn’t actually go to Tucson.
Besides, there was no way that my husband, the cop, would accept my taking the baby along. Chasing after three missing people almost three thousand miles away was likely to test his policeman’s mind all on its own.
“You’ll have to stay here and wait for me, right?” I told Leonora as I placed her little bottom on the table, my hands enfolding her whole body. Her tiny little shoulders under the ruffled floral top always knocked me out. “Grandma and the doggies will take care of you, Buddy, Sam, Bella, Max; well, all of them,” I informed my baby. “They’ll keep you company. And Daddy, too. Let’s not forget Daddy.”
Of course she goes to Tucson to see if she can help. Rossi can’t stop herself—her dear friend needs her, it’s a story that she can’t turn her back on, and there’s that damned curiosity that makes Rossi our Rossi. She also sent press releases to the Arizona paper to get the names of the missing aunt and her nieces in the news.
Jerry, of course, is not left alone. Neighbors and friends show up immediately to help him with the animals and crops and the dear, sweet baby. Hayes has done a wonderful job of building a close, caring community in this series. You’ll find they’re just like the neighbors and friends you depend on when a crisis occurs.
Rossi chases clues and finds little things the local police didn’t ferret out. As a former reporter, I can tell you that some journalists are the most tenacious people you’ll ever meet. They hang on to something like a pitbull and growl at anybody who tries to stop them. That’s our Rossi. She also keeps calling out the police for not probing further, though she does gain the trust of a local rookie who is willing to do what he can. Between his help and the local newspaper getting the word out, Ross begins to feel a tiny ray of hope.
Focusing on Diana, Linda, and Ginger, my body started to roil with new urgency to get out on the road and look for the Ford. On the way through the lobby, I saw the newspaper.
“Three Connecticut Women Missing in Tucson.” The story was above the fold on the front page, with the picture of the three of them. It was a gift, and I mentally thanked Maureen Maury as I held the paper.
The wide and clear picture of Diana, Linda, and Ginger smiling with vacation glee struck my heart. Grabbing several copies, slapping money on the front desk, I rushed to the door. The smiling clerk called after me—the newspapers were complementary.
Rossi misses her baby and longs to be with her husband, but she can’t give up until these three people who are special to her are found. The only way you’ll find out is if you read Dorothy Hayes’s new book, Keys to Nowhere. When you unlock a mystery like this, it’s difficult to close the door and stop reading.
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Leigh Neely is managing editor of two regional magazines in Florida. She and her writing partner, Jan Powell, are the authors of Awakening Magic, a new release from The Wild Rose Press. When she’s not working or writing fiction, she’s enjoy time with her family, which includes her husband, three children and their spouses, and four grandchildren.