Historian Wrenn Grayson arrives at the Rosemont mansion expecting to receive payment for her services from the mansion’s new owner, Clay Addison. That expectation dies when she and Clay find Trey Rosemont murdered on the foyer floor. Across town, police officers race to Eastwood University. Priceless Egyptian artifacts were stolen from the history department safe. Wrenn’s longtime love, Eastwood professor Gideon Douglas, heads the department. Only recovery of the artifacts will save his career.
Life in Havens, Ohio, doesn’t stop for this crime spree. Wrenn works for Mayor K.C. Tallmadge. He wishes Wrenn would stop searching down clues ahead of the police and pacify temperamental playwright Barton Reed. Barton’s play is just days away from opening in the town’s historic Baxter Theater.
Amid murder, theft, and curtain calls, Wrenn’s instincts prove sharp. But it’s her stubborn one-woman approach that places her directly in the killer’s path.
Historian-for-hire Wrenn Grayson takes on a difficult client in Kerry St. John. Kerry seeks justice for his great-grandfather’s lifelong heartache. Wrenn meets the renowned jeweler through words recorded in his tattered journal. The year is 1946. He writes from the tiny crossroads of Wyatt, Ohio, about the theft of a treasured locket and the identity of three possible suspects.
The cold case heats up when Lori Hammond arrives. The stolen locket was discovered among her mother’s possessions after her death. Lori refuses to return it to the St. John family, so Wrenn sets out to follow the locket’s path through history. Next, Lori is attacked and Kerry accused. If Kerry’s not guilty, then who is? That question sends cold whispers from the past down Wrenn’s spine.
In Designs on Ivy’s Locket, Connie Chappell focuses on the theme of parents and children, separated by death, by theft, and by design.
In Lily White Lie, engravings on a pocketwatch, cryptic messages, Easter lilies, and sidelined spy Bret Kilmore combine to thrust historian Wrenn Grayson into the mysterious world of symbolism. A worried Wrenn connects the messages to her longtime love Gideon and his father. Contact is impossible. Gideon deer hunts deep in the West Virginia wilderness. His father, a prominent banker, vanished after he uncovered a money-laundering scheme.
Bret disagrees with Wrenn’s assessment. He believes the messages threaten her. They both agree on the symbolism behind the lilies: Lilies signify death. But can Wrenn trust Bret, the man who coincidentally arrived in concert with the first message? The symbolism here is less clear: Bret is a man of intricacies, of light and dark, and lingering shadows.
The pocketwatch ticks off the time Wrenn doesn’t have. Danger mounts while every viable solution evaporates into mist.
Wrenn Grayson is hired to write the history behind Honeysuckle Blue Nursery. She digs into past generations of one family, the Hawthorn nurserymen. That research reveals the unsolved murders of four townspeople, collectively known as the lords, each poisoned by hemlock. Fifty years ago, the first lord poisoned was Commodore Theo Hawthorn. As Wrenn is pulled deeper into this old mystery, she struggles to understand other ancient secrets involving deadly nightshade, Socrates’ patience, and the “telling of the bees” lore.
With nursery operations abandoned eight years ago, the land is being converted to a green cemetery, a place for natural burials amidst wildflowers and shade trees. Despite the cemetery’s envisioned serenity, Wrenn learns it represents another dimension to take seriously. One night on the cemetery grounds, she stumbles onto a makeshift tombstone. The inscription reads, “Rest in peace, Wrenn Grayson.”
Predicted death? Hemlock poisoning? Who’s behind it?
Historian Wrenn Grayson is invited to the Foundling estate. She anticipates meeting the estate’s heiress, Clotilde Bronwyn. Upon arrival, though, she learns of Clotilde’s recent death and that the heiress left a letter addressed to Wrenn. Clotilde writes that she wishes to hire Wrenn to compose her memoriam. Wrenn accepts the challenge.
Clotilde’s family mansion is now the home of the Foundling Historical Society. Society members agree to share memories of the adventurous woman for the memoriam. Another vein of activity at the mansion is the hunt for the long-missing Almond City gold. Bronwyn family ancestors are responsible for this fabled treasure.
The hunt stops when someone is found murdered on the estate grounds. The police suspect Wrenn when she cannot produce an alibi for the time of death. The situation worsens after she admits a dark history with the victim. Wrenn is left with no choice. She must pursue her own risky investigation.
Historian Wrenn Grayson’s decision to sell her grandmother’s farmhouse brings unimagined consequences. It leads to the meeting of Foster Spears and Nate Edwards, uncanny lookalikes. Nate hires Wrenn to investigate. His question is: Are Foster and he family? Her first clue leads to derelict Langford Hospital, sitting on the edge of town, forgotten. The private women’s hospital opened in 1940, but when it closed thirty years later, one enormously dark secret remained locked within the walls.
Selling the farmhouse also brings Wrenn’s parents to town. Their relationship has been hard in the past, but this time, Pamela and Trent Grayson arrive with a plan to uproot Wrenn’s life. She’s stunned to learn the idea was drafted by her beloved grandmother years before her death and purposely kept from her.
In Beneath Crimson Clover, Wrenn must search her heart for one answer, but she believes the other answer waits inside Langford Hospital. Will the hospital give up its ghosts? Or will the mystery of Langford remain forever unsolved?
The first three Wrenn Grayson mysteries are now available in a Kindle Edition box set. Also included is the option to download a free Wrenn Grayson Mini Mystery titled Rose Petal Haunt.
In a review, The Baltimore Sun wrote: “The entire series will transport you to a place you will never want to leave."
Chappell is the recipient of many awards and special commendations.
Chappell has received praise for her novels from a variety of sources.