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Valley of the Lost Hardcover – Feb 1 2009

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CDN$ 24.94 CDN$ 0.01 First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (Feb. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159058595X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590585955
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.5 x 22.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,489,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Quill & Quire

The small town of Trafalgar, B.C., seems far more suited to quiet vacations than murder, but the detective duo of Constable Molly Smith and Sergeant John Winters know better. Their debut, In the Shadow of the Glacier (2007), unearthed deadly tensions surrounding the town’s ceremonial garden for Vietnam War draft dodgers, and Valley of the Lost allows them to dig up even darker doings. At first, Ashley’s death looks to be a routine heroin overdose, the baby lying near her the only jarring note. But it turns out that Ashley isn’t really Ashley – and the baby isn’t really hers. Smith and Winters try to figure out who the baby really belongs to, and what prompted someone to kill a girl who “had no past, almost no present ... and certainly no future. Except for this tiny, screaming thing.” In the process, other conflicts bubble up to Trafalgar’s surface. A new resort development promises greater tourism (and career opportunities for Winters’ wife, Eliza) but also greater strife for townsfolk worried about newcomers. The three-month-old baby, without any family members to take her, ends up in the care of Smith’s mother, Lucky, bringing with it visions of grandchildren yet to be born. And a burgeoning romance with RCMP Constable Adam Tkocek adds further complications to Smith’s life. Delany has a lot of plot and atmospheric elements to balance, but she does so with relative ease. The focus doesn’t waver from the main investigation, and the built-in suspense of Ashley’s true identity increases the story’s momentum. In this second novel, the dynamic between Smith and Winters has the appeal of shoes that have just been broken in. The fun will be to experience the growing comfort level in future volumes.


"Intertwined subplots, complex characters, and an easy prose style make this a great follow-up to Delany's debut, In the Shadow of the Glacier. For most collections." --Library Journal of Valley of the Lost

"At the start of Delany's engaging second mystery to feature Constable Molly Smith (after 2007's In the Shadow of the Glacier), Molly's mother is leaving work one evening at the Trafalgar Women's Support Center in British Columbia when a baby's cry draws her to the nearby woods, where she finds a baby boy, wrapped in a blanketaand the body of a young woman. The victim, presumably the boy's mother, appears to have died from a heroin overdose, but restraint marks on her wrists point to foul play. Molly and her mentor, Sgt. John Winters, comb Trafalgar in an effort to identify the woman. After discovering that her first name was Ashley, the police officers learn that the developer of a controversial new resort being built outside of town had a heated argument with Ashley shortly before she died. Delaney explores the social dynamics of a small mountain community as well as deftly handling the plot's twists and turns as it builds to a pulse-pounding conclusion." -- Publishers Weekly of Valley of the Lost

"This second Molly Smith mystery, following In the Shadow of the Glacier (2007), again contrasts the beautiful British Columbia wilderness, vividly described by Delany, with the sober realities of contemporary crime, in this case, murder and drug use. Molly, a dedicated cop determined to succeed in what is primarily a man’s profession, makes an engaging lead character." -- Booklist of Valley of the Lost

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donna Carrick on March 22 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Likeable characters, an intricate plot and a backdrop comprised of BC's stunning Trafalgar region come together in this latest novel by Canadian author Vicki Delaney. Sergeant John Winters has left the urban chaos of Vancouver with his supermodel wife Eliza in search of a more peaceful existence. But even the placid mountain town of Trafalgar is not immune to violence.

When the body of a troubled woman is found in the bushes behind the home of "Lucky" Smith, a counsellor for inexperienced and abused mothers, the deceased's three-month-old son Miller is given a place near the hearth in Lucky's kitchen. However, Lucky's good intentions unwittingly pave the road to discord in her own family. Baby Miller will not stop crying!

Lucky's daughter, Constable Molly "Moonlight" Smith, could use a good night's sleep. The howling infant, his dead mother and Molly's own traumatic memories conspire to keep her awake.

It soon becomes clear that `sleep' will remain an unsatisfied craving in the Smith household so long as Miller's true identity remains a mystery.

Battling an unknown perpetrator with no apparent motive, an unsympathetic social worker, an overly-ambitious journalist and the darker side of BC's own drug culture, John Winters and Molly Smith set out to uncover Miller's past and catch his mother's killer.

A memorable read - perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon at the cottage!
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By Ed Duplissie on April 20 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The second novel in the Constable Molly Smith mystery series. I enjoyed this story even more than the first book. Good read. Even better the series is written by a Canadian.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Valley Of The Lost Feb. 28 2009
By D.J. McIntosh - Published on
Format: Hardcover
New and interesting settings encourage me to take a second look at a book and I loved the scenes in this one - the mountain village of Trafalgar, a place of last resort for transients and ex-hippies in the rugged and beautiful British Columbia Kootenays. The plot gets strong kick start when an abandoned baby lying near his dead mother is discovered on the murky, brush strewn slopes of a forest. Equal to the mystery is Molly Smith, a young, ambitious constable eager to prove herself. I found the interplay between Molly and her mentor, Sergeant John Winters, really convincing. I also liked watching relationships between the town's characters unfold as we're caught up in the central intrigue. A very good read!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Move over Martha Grimes - There's a new kid in town... April 11 2012
By Willsgirl - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a mystery novel reader. I have some favorites -but I happened to be on business when I heard about Vicki Delany's novels and just had to read one. I loved it. She writes about places I have been and the type of life I can relate to. Valley of the lost is a great read. Her constable and the rest of the crew are interesting/ordinary people. The kind of people you want to get to know...but don't stop there. She has some stand alone stories that are fantastic too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great read! March 5 2009
By Madeleine G. Harris - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Valley of the Lost is an engaging, light-toned police procedural that doesn't shy away from exploring social problems in a small west coast town: underage pregnancy, sexual interference and illegal drugs. Constable Molly Smith is a sympathetic protagonist new to the job who must contend with a demanding boss and her aging hippy parents. Plenty of humour when her parents' views of the justice system and marihuana grow-ops don't quite line up with her own.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Skilled narrator holds reader's attention June 12 2012
By carl brookins - Published on
Format: Paperback
Here's a good example of a spare, tightly written crime novel of classic dimensions. Here is no rambling, no wandering up dead ends with little or no relation to the characters or the main plot. The novel has its problems, but Delany has her targets firmly in mind the entire time.

The setting is a small town called Trafalgar, British Columbia. There's a lot going on here. A development company wants to build a high-concept resort in the mountains right outside of town. There are a number of semi-homeless and single mothers and other young people who seem to be floating through town as well. Light drug use appears to be relatively common, probably due to an enlightened and relaxed view by the authorities of things like single parent-hood and individual pot use. Law enforcement efforts to control things, keep a lid on, rather than reactionary and unenforceable prohibitions. But as the book opens there are concerns about a possible rise in heroin use.

Moonlight Smith, daughter of a pair of aging American west coast hippies has changed her name. She's now Molly Smith and has become a probationary constable in the Trafalgar police force. However, she still lives at home, and her burgeoning career doesn't always sit well with her mother, largely unregenerate in her attitudes toward any legally constituted authorities, including those who have hired her daughter.

A young woman is found dead of an apparent drug overdose. Her baby is deposited with Molly Smith's mother, who works at the town's alternative social service center for young mothers. Finding the dead woman's parents and the baby's father is an obvious first priority, as is learning how and why the woman died. Seems pretty straight forward, but things bend immediately into surprising facts that raise a host of questions. Readers will immediately recognize they are in the hands of a skilled narrator. Author Delany has a fine and subtle understanding of how to handle the measured delivery of information to the reader. It happens in both casual and formal circumstances, but always wrapped in the narrative of the moment. Readers will be advised to treat this book with all due attention. I look forward to reading more by this fine writer.
This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite series Jan. 26 2013
By Cathy G. Cole - Published on
Format: Paperback
First Line: The setting sun had slipped behind the mountains, and in the bottom of the valley, long ago carved out of ancient rock by the swift-moving river, the summer's night was hot and close.

When Lucky Smith hears a baby cry off in the trees, she goes to see what's wrong. She finds a scared and hungry infant-- and the body of his mother lying close by. Sergeant John Winters of the Trafalgar, British Columbia, police force begins his investigation with the help of Lucky's daughter, Probationary Constable Molly Smith. When the two start checking with the people who knew the dead girl, they learn that this isn't a simple case of drug overdose. Something else is going on, but until they discover the girl's true identity, it's going to be very difficult indeed to find out just what that something is. While they're knocking on doors and asking questions, Lucky Smith has appointed herself the child's foster mother, and Winters' wife Eliza is being courted by a controversial new resort's owners to become the face of the place.

It had been over a year since I'd read the first book in Vicki Delany's Molly Smith series, and I wondered how quickly I would fall back into the setting and how well I would remember the characters and their backgrounds. I should not have wondered. From the first page, I fell back into Trafalgar as if I'd never left. Never once did I furrow my brow in an attempt to remember a character. As anyone knows who reads a lot of mystery series, this can be a rather rare occurrence. For me to have such excellent recall after a long period of time means one thing: Vicki Delany is an excellent writer who knows how to create memorable characters and settings. (Actually it means two things, the second being that I shouldn't allow so much time to elapse between books in such a good series!)

I like the fact that John Winters has a good feeling about Molly and takes the time to work with her and to be a mentor. His experience is going to help her make the right choices in the future. Another (very) refreshing fact about Winters is that he can work with Molly and not lust after her which often seems to be obligatory on both page and screen. Actually, he's even more remarkable because he's happily married to a beautiful woman who's been at the very top of the modeling profession. John and Eliza have been able to have such disparate careers and a very close and loving relationship for years.

Molly is still learning as a police officer, and still grieving for her dead fiance. She doesn't have a car, and she still lives with her parents-- two hippies who came to Canada in the 1970s to evade the draft. (However, I think Molly's living arrangements will be changing soon after reading this book!) Her parents built a successful business and raised two children, but their once close relationship is changing. Molly's dad seems to have mellowed a bit over the years while Molly's mother, Lucky, is every bit the protesting firebrand she was as a teenager. One of the many things that will keep me reading this series is the relationship between Molly's parents.

I've talked a lot about the characters in this book, and that's because they're so well drawn that I feel as if I know them all. But a mystery cannot be a good mystery unless it has a plot to match the setting and the characters, and Valley of the Lost does. With the reveal of a few early clues, I thought I had figured out the background of the dead girl. I was nowhere close-- and I like that. The plot line involving the resort and its owners had its own surprises, and I love how it ties in with other aspects of the plot.

If you're a fan of memorable settings, fascinating characters, plots that keep you guessing, and you tell me that you've never read one of Vicki Delany's Molly Smith books, I have only one question for you...

What are you waiting for? Track these books down and start reading them. You're in for a treat!