Book Review: Safe Beginnings by Christine Duncan

Safe Beginnings
Christine Duncan
Treble Heart Books
July 2002
ISBN 1931742855
Paperback

Kaye Berreano is the counselor on duty at Beginnings, a battered women’s shelter, when the fire alarm goes off. Kaye hurries to get all the women and their children out of the building but Mary Ellen, a woman apparently disliked by nearly everyone, doesn’t make it. Early investigations reveal that the fire was deliberately set and Farrell, the police arson investigator, believes Kaye is withholding information.

Since some of the women need to be placed elsewhere, Kaye’s job security is in doubt, at a time when she is going through an ugly divorce and her financial situation is very shaky. The police don’t seem to be getting anywhere useful, even thinking the victim may have set the fire to cover her own suicide, and Kaye begins her own investigation. Unfortunately, since this is a battered women’s shelter, there are quite a few potential suspects among the abusive husbands and boyfriends. In addition, more than one of the women may have had a motive. She’s sure, though, that Mary Ellen did not kill herself. Digging into the lives of these abused women, Kaye finds some surprises and even more questions, about Mary Ellen’s death. Ultimately, she must come to terms with her own life and future.

Most of us, thankfully, will never know what it’s like to live with abuse and what that can do to the soul. Author Christine Duncan has cracked the door to this world just a little bit, with empathy and understanding, through a woman with problems of her own. Kaye’s desire to protect these women and children while encouraging them to break the cycle of pain makes her a woman I’ll look forward to meeting again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, 2002.
Review first published on murderexpress.net in 2002.

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