Cover image for The safe room
The safe room
Publication Information:
Waterville, Me. : Five Star, c2002.
Physical Description:
302 p.


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Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The New England suspense author's (Blind Spot; See No Evil; etc.) first venture into hardcover fiction blends several themes and genres into a mlange that may have a difficult time finding an audience. Shapiro gives the reader a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, a ghost story and social history both contemporary and pre-Civil War. The diary of Sarah Harden provides insight into the courage, convictions and trials endured by Underground Railroad sympathizers in Lexington, Mass., while a parallel story marks the progress (or lack of) that haunts Lee Seymour, a descendant of the Hardens, a proud abolitionist family. As Sarah's diary reveals details of the tragic love that developed between her and a runaway slave, Silas Person, in the late 1850s, Lee is busy helping her grandmother oversee the paperwork, repairs and reconstruction necessary to have Harden House made part of the Harriet Tubman Network to Freedom National Park. Assisting Lee is Trina Collins, a recovering addict from the Cambridge rehabilitation center where Lee works, SafeHaven. Activities both ghostly and human affect the progress being made on Harden House, and the violent past hidden for more than 100 years seems to have given birth to a new cycle of violence. An effective writer, Shapiro handles the strains of her story quite well, though her reliance on the paranormal aspects of her plot may not appeal to mystery purists. Agent, Nancy Yost. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Do you believe in ghosts? Lee Seymour, a sociologist living with her Gram and working at SafeHaven, certainly doesn't-until she begins to hear a clanging in the root cellar of Harden House, built by her great-great-great-great grandfather, Lexington, Massachusetts's most ardent abolitionist, and encounters the vaporous form of runway slave Silas Person digging a tunnel. Silas is one angry ghost, and excerpts from Sarah Abigail Harden's 1858 diary explain why. When she and Silas secretly married and she became pregnant, her abolitionist father suddenly revealed a racist core and perpetrated a tragedy. Is Silas's ectoplasm, still seeking familial revenge, responsible not only for costing Lee many nights' sound sleep but also for causing Gram's collapse and death in the cellar and for slashing cousin Beth in the kitchen? Did he steal Gram's emerald and diamond bracelet as well? Was Harden House, a noted safe haven for blacks scheduled to become a cornerstone in the Tubman Park Underground Railroad historic district, actually a burial ground for one of them? Underlying current racial tensions cause Lee and the cops to question the role played by Gram's secretary, Trina, an ex-junkie and resident of SafeHaven, but the real blame rests closer to home, courtesy of a motive somewhat less believable than the ferocious appearances of Silas. Despite a tendency to quote parapsychologist Hans Holzer a little too generously, Shapiro (Shattered Echoes, not reviewed) brings some stinging insights into the insidiousness of racism.

Library Journal Review

Narrator Lee Harden toils as a research assistant for an inner-city drug center in Boston. Unofficially, she counsels recovering black addict Trina and helps her own grandmother (with whom she lives) ready her historic house for acceptance into a national park comprising Underground Railroad stations. Lee complains of unnerving nightmares about the house's root cellar and even sleepwalks while the house undergoes renovations. Her narrative shares space with journal entries an ancestor made in 1858, detailing her unacceptable relationship with an escaped slave. Increasingly eerie connections with the past, a missing bracelet, and murder make this a recommended choice for readers of psychological suspense. Shapiro is the author of such titles as Blind Spot and See No Evil. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.