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Woodson Falls: 16 Lakeview Terrace

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Lawyer Gaby Quinn stumbles upon a mystery while settling an estate of a local in her tiny New England town.

Synopsis

Gaby Quinn is hiding from her past, recovering from the senseless death of her husband, and living in a small New England town. She has her law practice, her dog Kat, and a small circle of friends. What more could she need?

But when an unusual probate case crosses her desk, she finds herself looking for a lost body, an abandoned truck, and answers to a mountain of questions, not least of which is, “Who was Pieter Jorgenson?”

Soon enough, she discovers even small towns hold big secrets.

Against the routine backdrop of a small New England town, O’Connor successfully weaves a gripping page-turner, ending with a bang.
—Don Lowe, First Selectman, Sherman, CT

A small-town atmosphere is brilliantly created in this intriguing conundrum that has a strong finish that will shock and surprise you. A fine writing style moves the puzzle along in an effortless pace and Ms. O’Connor’s lead character, Gaby Quinn, is a pleasure to follow around. "Woodson Falls: 16 Lakeview Terrace" is a good read for anyone who likes a clever mystery.
—Peter Green, author of the Jimmy Dugan mystery series

Gabriella Quinn is living the quiet life of a small-town lawyer. Life has delt her a hand she never thought she would have to play. Not so very long ago she lived in New York City with her beloved husband. Her world came crashing down the night he was murdered and she was seriously injured by an unknown assailant in the city they both loved. Moving to Woodson Falls and her adored dog Kat are the two things helping her cope with the residual pain and fear from the attack.


When she is called upon to settle the estate of Pieter Jorgenson, a Woodson Falls resident, she happily takes the case. Unfortunately, this case will be anything but ordinary. He was an odd man. He was feuding with his neighbors, and yet he was a kind and compassionate crossing guard for the elementary school children. A loner skilled in woodworking, he seems to have ties in New York City as he was found there, dead in his truck.


As Gaby begins collecting information to settle the estate, she contacts his only known relative, an uncle who paints a picture of Jorgenson as a bullied young boy that grew up to be a loner. One evening after gathering papers from the dead man’s home, Gaby is rammed by a vehicle on the way home. She is shaken, but not hurt. Luckily Officer Matt Thomas was patrolling the area and helped Gaby get a tow truck for her car and got her home safely.


As luck would have it, Matt has ties to New York, and helps grease the wheels for her with the NYPD when she has to go looking for information on Jorgenson’s death. The deeper she digs, the more secrets she finds. Jorgenson apparently was not the man many people thought he was – but who and what exactly was he?


I loved this fast-paced mystery. The characters, especially Gaby and Jorgenson, have many layers that are interesting to peel back and discover. The solid plot that ties up all loose ends in the final chapters is perfect for mystery lovers as well as legal thriller fans. Readers will latch on to this and not let go until the final pages.


This is the first book I have read by Andrea O’Connor but will not be my last. She has previously published several non-fiction books. Woodson Falls: 16 Lakeview Terrace is her first venture into fiction. I absolutely loved her writing style as well as the plot and characters. I’m adding her to my favorites list so that I can snatch up her next book as soon as it hits the shelves. I highly recommend you check out this fabulous debut fiction author.



DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

Reviewed by

I began reviewing books on a now defunct website, GenReview in 2011. I now review books on my website, as well as for Penguin First To Read, Netgalley, Maryglenn McCombs, book publicist, Bookish First and Killer Nashville. I also review books for various authors that send me their books.

Synopsis

Gaby Quinn is hiding from her past, recovering from the senseless death of her husband, and living in a small New England town. She has her law practice, her dog Kat, and a small circle of friends. What more could she need?

But when an unusual probate case crosses her desk, she finds herself looking for a lost body, an abandoned truck, and answers to a mountain of questions, not least of which is, “Who was Pieter Jorgenson?”

Soon enough, she discovers even small towns hold big secrets.

Against the routine backdrop of a small New England town, O’Connor successfully weaves a gripping page-turner, ending with a bang.
—Don Lowe, First Selectman, Sherman, CT

A small-town atmosphere is brilliantly created in this intriguing conundrum that has a strong finish that will shock and surprise you. A fine writing style moves the puzzle along in an effortless pace and Ms. O’Connor’s lead character, Gaby Quinn, is a pleasure to follow around. "Woodson Falls: 16 Lakeview Terrace" is a good read for anyone who likes a clever mystery.
—Peter Green, author of the Jimmy Dugan mystery series

Chapter 2

Gabriella Quinn gazed out the picture window at the pond below. Most of its snow cover had melted days ago, but a heavy rain followed by a sudden dip in the temperature had left its surface smooth as glass, reflecting the bare trees that lined the shore. She could glimpse Woodson Lake in the distance and imagined the falls beyond, the tumbling waters suddenly frozen into a sculpture worthy of display in a museum.

Pennsylvania’s groundhog had predicted six more weeks of winter. If you believed such things. Only two weeks to go until Beaver Pond should begin to melt into itself once again, turning a subtle taupe that surely would signal the start of spring. She had chosen this room for her law office because of the view. The ever-changing pond and active wildlife, even in winter, were a source of delight whenever she glanced up from her desk.

She returned to drafting a particularly tricky clause in the contract she was preparing for the Hansen’s, who were selling their house. If acceptable to the buyer, this clause would permit Ann and Paul to stay in the house until June, allowing their young daughter Cyndi to finish out the school year before the family moved to Texas. Real estate law wasn’t her favorite, but most small law practices like her own survived on the fees real estate transactions generated for the attorney handling the transfer for either buyer or seller. In a larger practice, a paralegal would handle most of the details surrounding such sales, but Gaby wasn’t yet in a position to hire a paralegal, even part-time. The telephone rang, interrupting Gabriella’s train of thought.

“Law offices. Gabriella Quinn speaking,” she said, smiling to herself at the formality of her announcement given the location of her “offices” in this room in the cottage she’d inherited from her grandfather.

“Gaby, good to hear your voice. Bud Taylor calling. I’ve got an estate I’m hoping you’ll take on.”

Hiram Samuel “Bud” Taylor had retired from a large estate planning practice some fifteen years ago, winning the seat as Judge for the Foothills Probate District every four years since with little opposition. A tall, stocky man with steely gray hair, he preferred to be called “Bud” rather than “Judge Taylor,” but she still had difficulty with that informality.

“Good afternoon, Your Honor. I think I may be able to squeeze it in,” she said with a chuckle. She had opened her law practice in Woodson Falls just over two years ago. Fresh out of law school, she had resigned her tenured position as a professor of philosophy at Columbia University after she passed the bar in both New York and Connecticut. “What have you got?”

“Interesting case. Started with a land dispute up in Woodson Lake Estates. Lakeview Terrace, number sixteen. The defendant, by the name of Pieter Jorgenson, failed to appear when the case came up for hearing. The plaintiff, Ralph Loomis, was awarded a judgment by default against Jorgenson on an adverse possession claim when the defendant didn’t show up at the trial. Turned out Jorgenson had died suddenly in New York, an apparent stroke or brain aneurysm according to the death certificate. Just in his fifties too. Loomis can’t collect on the judgment or remove the wall blocking his access to his property until there’s an estate to file a claim against. Bill Harrison, Loomis’ attorney, asked me to appoint someone as administrator. There are no next of kin according to Bill, at least not in Connecticut, and it’s likely Jorgenson didn’t leave a will. You’re the only attorney in Woodson Falls, and I figured you might be interested.”

Gaby appreciated the Judge’s occasional referrals. She had introduced herself to the Court once she had set up her office, and Judge Taylor and his clerks had welcomed her warmly. Building a law practice from scratch would have been difficult without such referrals.

“Certainly am interested, Judge, and thank you for thinking of me. Let me see… Today’s Wednesday. I can stop by to pick up the death certificate tomorrow. I should be able to file the necessary applications early next week.”

“Good, good. Knew I could count on you, Gaby. Well, see you tomorrow—or one of my clerks will. Have a good afternoon.”

“Thanks, Judge. You too. Bye now.”

Hanging up the phone, Gaby scribbled a few notes on the new case, then leaned back in her chair, gazing once again at the pond. She hated the thought of going up to the Estates. The narrow, winding roads in the massive subdivision were tricky to navigate, and it was easy to get caught in a dead-end, where turning around could quickly turn dangerous on the steep hills. The accumulated snow and likely icing of the roads would just make a difficult situation even more hazardous.

“Come on, Katrina,” she called to her German Sheprador, a beautiful Shepherd-Labrador mix she had gotten shortly after she moved to Woodson Falls. “Time for a run.”

Gaby did her best thinking while she was outside running or, in the summer months, swimming with Kat out to one of the islands in the middle of Woodson Lake. She and the black and tan dog both loved the outdoors, and the trails around Gaby’s cottage in the woods of southern Woodson Falls allowed Katrina to run free of a leash. They headed toward a tree-lined trail that ran just across the road and up a steep hill.

I’ll finish up that contract when I get back. Then she would map out a plan for gathering the information she’d need to file the necessary paperwork with the probate court, formally opening the Jorgenson estate.

An hour later Gaby was back in her office, warming her hands around a mug of cocoa. She laid aside the completed draft of the Hansen contract to be reviewed tomorrow, then reached into a drawer, pulling out her map of Woodson Falls. She located Woodson Lake Estates, which ran along the lake’s northwestern shoreline. It was impossible to determine topography on this map, but when she found the squiggly line representing Lakeview Terrace, she suspected it would run along a high ridge. The line drifted off into empty space, one of the many dead-end roads located in most Woodson Falls subdivisions. Hopefully, the house would be one of the first on the road and not the last.


About the author

Andrea O’Connor is the author of three award-winning texts in the area of nursing education and staff development as well as numerous articles in peer-reviewed nursing and education journals. Woodson Falls: 16 Lakeview Terrace is her first foray into the world of fiction, but it won’t be her last. view profile

Published on August 25, 2020

Published by Emerald Lake Books

50000 words

Genre: Legal Thriller

Reviewed by

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