Claire Sorenson is the daughter of the town drunk, Lud Sorenson, she works as a maid to the wealthy and dangerously handsome lumber baron Cole Garrett. She sometimes daydreams of what life would be like living in his beautiful home and being mother to his adorable baby girl Daisy, but that is all they are - daydreams. For life in the Garrett home is a little closer to a nightmare, trapped in a loveless marriage with his wife Priscilla; Cole sees no way out until Priscilla is found murder at his lumber mill. All fingers point to Cole as the killer, but Claire knows differently and sets out to prove it.
Just Before Daybreak is indeed an old fashioned whodunit set in 1880ís Michigan, it was refreshing to read a murder mystery that didnít all the technology and forensic know how of today. With a cast of characters where anyone could be the killer, one moment you think you know and then someone makes a statement or does something out of character and you suspect them. Readers will be very surprised to learn who the killer really is.
Claire was a wonderful amateur sleuth looking for clues trying to get information without appearing to do what she is doing. The only thing I didnít enjoy about her was the fact that she felt that she had to take care of her drunken brother and father, two grown men who were capable of fending for themselves. Cole, at first started off as a real jerk putting Claire down because she wasnít what he wanted in a way of a nurse for Daisy, as the novel progresses he redeems himself by hiring Claire and then falling in love with her. This is a great story with many other little stories interwoven