Covenant Hall by Kathryn R. Wall is the 9th book in the “Bay Tanner” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, April 2009

When private investigator Bay Tanner is hired by a young mother to track down her estranged family, she realizes the stakes couldn’t be higher. Kimmie Eastman is dying of a rare form of leukemia, and familial bone marrow seems to offer her only hope. But the clues are sparse — a single photograph and a small pile of decades-old letters. And Bay’s gut feeling that the girl’s mother isn’t being entirely truthful. With little time and less hope, Bay plunges into the chase.

For once, Bay isn’t at odds with her fiancé, sheriff’s sergeant Red Tanner, over her current case. But she does find herself looking for excuses not to wear his ring, and she welcomes her immersion in the hunt for the Eastman girl’s family as a way of avoiding her ambivalence about marrying her murdered husband’s brother.

Then a phone call sends her racing to the hospital where her father, invalid Judge Talbot Simpson, is battling a failing heart. Searching for his medical power of attorney in his personal files, Bay encounters a document that completely stuns her. How could her father have kept such a shocking secret from her? Has her entire life been based on a lie? Desperate for answers to her own personal mystery, she stumbles across another clue, this one in the possession of Lavinia Smalls, her father’s longtime companion and caretaker and the one person Bay thought she could trust completely.

With time running out — perhaps for her father as well as the girl — Bay struggles to untangle the web of secrets and lies surrounding both her own family past and that of the dying child . . . until she encounters the strange women of Covenant Hall, who may well hold the key to everything.

What a thrilling ride that I couldn’t get off. I read this book non-stop because I had to see the conclusion.  My Rating: 4 stars

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