MURDER IN THE WORLD BELOW (Haven Mystery #1) by Lara Nance
About the Book: Released February 24, 2013
In 1922 the federal government built the largest facility for handicapped children in the country, hidden in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia. It was closed forever in 1960 amid horrifying stories of deplorable conditions, overcrowding, illegal testing and sexual abuse of the young inmates.
Sixty-one years later, the academy is now a community college, all trace of its evil past swept away. Or is it? For under the campus of renovated buildings, escapees from the academy and their descendants still live in an elaborate series of tunnels and caves, hiding their differences and fear of the upper world.
Haven, as the residents call their underground home, is a happy, thriving community until they learn their source of power is about to be cut off. A resourceful young woman named Awen sets out to find an alternative source of energy. But someone in Haven is murdering people and sabotaging her efforts.
Aided by a professor from the college, Awen is in a race to expose the killer and hunt for a source of energy that will save Haven. Unfortunately, the murderer now has their sights on Awen as the next victim, and time is running out for the world below.
REVIEW: MURDER IN THE WORLD BELOW is the first storyline in Lara Nance’s new contemporary suspense HAVEN MYSTERY series focusing on the men, women and children who live in the underground world known as Haven. Once a former mental institution for the ‘retarded’ Haven is now home to the local college but the descendants of many of the previous ‘inmates’ at Haven now live below the surface, hiding the physical deformities brought about by years of radiation experiments and sexual assaults. Afraid of the ‘real world’ and how the ‘uppers’ will view their physical imperfections, the community of Haven must forge an existence scrounging supplies and resources from the world above. But when two of their members die suddenly from an unexplained illness, Awen becomes suspicious of the man hailed to replace the recently deceased leader.
The storyline follows Awen, a young woman who desperately wants to be normal; from all appearances Awen is normal and can walk around in the upper world, but she was born and raised in the underground community of Haven and she wants to ensure that her friends and family are well looked after. But with two suspicious deaths and another probable attempt Awen takes it upon herself to investigate the people who may be involved.
Meanwhile, Awen has begun to forge relationships on the surface. Dropping in on the poetry and literature classes, Awen is befriended by another student who becomes Awen’s lifeline on the surface. But it is Awen’s relationship with the professor that places the people of Haven in danger. When Awen’s relationship with the professor is brought before a college tribunal she must risk revealing the community of Haven to help save the man with whom she is falling in love.
MURDER IN THE WORLD BELOW is another well-written and fascinating storyline from Lara Nance. The reader is introduced to a tight-knit community of second and third generation survivors of a government institutional system that went horribly wrong at the hands of people in control. We watch as the community must endeavor to seek out new resources and a power supply; maintain order when the new leadership is questioned; and discover that one of their own may be responsible for the deaths under investigation. Lara Nance’s imagination and colorful storyline kept me reading until the very end. I cannot wait until the next instalment.
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy