Before Amazon, before Barnes and Noble online, people could order books that arrived through the mail. They were sold via television commercials and Time Life sold an entire series, Mysteries of the Unknown, this way. Remember those books—they had black covers with spooky photographs and titles (in shiny silver letters) like Alien Encounters, Psychic Powers, and Hauntings. Don’t remember? Well, that’s what YouTube is for—the commercial is still available there for all to enjoy.
Nora, one of the main characters of Emily Arsenault’s atmospheric new mystery, In Search of the Rose Notes, remembers. No matter where she was in her house, she would stop cold whenever she heard the commercial and run to the television to watch, fascinated. When her best friend, Charlotte, discovers her older brother Paul has actually purchased part of the series the two 11 year olds are elated. They pore over the books, finding endless entertainment in their glossy, slick pages. Their teenage babysitter, the beautiful Rose, is bemused – she finds the books boring and silly.
When Rose disappears on a November day in 1990 the two girls turn to the books to try and make sense of what has happened. Is she a runaway, as many of the neighbors believe, or has something else happened? Can the books help them unlock their psychic abilities and tap into the unknown—into what happened to Rose?
But the books fail them and the mystery of Rose remains unsolved. Nora and Charlotte grow older, grow apart and Nora moves away. Then, in 2006, Charlotte calls to say Rose has been found. And Nora goes back, both physically and in time, to sift through the sometimes painful memories of her adolescence to see if this time the truth about Rose can be found.