Of course, trouble and potential cases seem to follow Sam with unerring certainty and this is no exception for the Hermit of Hisarya. Sam and her fiancee are staying in a small Bulgarian village with the conference organiser, her husband, their son and the woman's elderly mother. When Sam discovers that the grandmother's father was accused of betrayal during World War II and sentenced effectively to the lonely life of a hermit far from his family, before later being executed by the communist regime, Sam is intrigued. The grandmother's adamant protestations that her father was innocent of the betrayal stir Sam's inquisitive nature and before you know it she is caught up in a web of intrigue from seventy years earlier, along with danger, violence, drugs and corruption in modern-day Bulgaria.
Author Hannah Howe has a writing style that just sucks you in and carries you along on a twisting, turning, plot journey that makes putting her books down a difficult proposition. So much of this series revolves around the character of Sam Smith and each time I read one of the series, I discover new depths, new nuances and new experiences for this young woman. To me, that is the key to a successful character-driven series and Howe has this down perfectly.
All the Sam Smith stories are stand-alone cases and can be read in any order. That being said, I would still recommend any new reader to start at the beginning and work your way through this superb series. I mean, why wouldn't you? Howe is a master of this genre and Sam Smith is an endearing and captivating leading-lady. I can highly recommend this read and indeed any of the Sam Smith series books from this uber-talented author.