The Secrets Beneath (Treasures of the Earth)

Written by Kimberley Woodhouse
Review by Thomas j. Howley

In 1879 Wyoming Territory, strange items are being discovered beneath the rugged terrain. Paleontology is a rather new scientific discipline, and Anna Lakeman is delighted to be involved with her paleontologist father in unearthing, archiving, and preserving fossils of truly ancient dinosaurs. Anna is especially adept at rendering drawings of the artefacts, a useful talent in the field.

When a particularly auspicious find is detected quite close to her childhood home, she and her father approach the landowner, a former neighbor and schoolmate of Anna, to request permission to dig and conduct research there. The owner is a complicated fellow but remembers Anna fondly and agrees. Then, an even closer former friend of Anna arrives home from medical school in the East to attend to family business. Joshua and Anna had been inseparable and seemingly destined for marriage before a disagreement on his departure for college. Now he’s back, and the two of them must determine their future together, if any. As the fieldwork goes on, mysterious and foreboding events increasingly disturb the dig effort. A child goes missing, and evidence of an old and odious crime seems to arise, all accompanied by competition among different paleontologists and financial backers wanting to take over. Anna, Josh, and her ailing father must persevere not only to make the ancient dig a success but also to solve old and dangerous mysteries closer to home.

This novel is an inspirational detective and romance story set in a fascinating historical venue. It is full of twists and surprises, including the final one. Throughout, the author provides small clues and innuendoes which alert the astute reader to what may really be happening. Dinosaur fossil hunting as a premise makes the entire book even more intriguing. Great job, and strongly recommended.