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by Jeanne M. Dams
Severn House, April 2011
192 pages
ISBN: 0727869833

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

One of the enjoyable aspects of Dams's Dorothy Martin series is the realism. Dorothy has had knee surgery, something not uncommon in people her age. She's not running marathons. She avoids stairs, particularly at the end of the day. Her knees ache when the weather changes. Still she carries on in the grand British tradition, only whingeing a little bit in private to her husband. The opportunities for discomfort of many sorts are present in this latest adventure. Dorothy and Alan are spending the weekend at Branston Abbey, with the expectation of no more excitement than the fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day.

There is a horrendous storm, the likes of which England hasn't seen possibly in decades. The power goes out. There is flooding. Amazing numbers of trees are uprooted. All of these things conspire to totally isolate the castles. The cell phone towers are down. There is no way to communicate with the outside world. This might not be all bad, although it does cause "the help" some difficulties. The big problem is the body found in the roots of a giant oak tree. Who is it? How long has it been there? As some of these questions are answered, there are more dead bodies.

Alan is a retired Chief Constable, so he is the logical person to take charge and investigate things. He has no real authority, however, and not everyone is happy with his taking any kind of leadership position. Dorothy has her own reasons for wanting the killer or killers found; she's always been interested in solving puzzles, and this one is a beaut.

Fans of Dams should be very pleased with this entry in the Dorothy Martin series. Dorothy and Alan are believable as a couple, and as individuals. The situation is a classic one, as anyone who has ever read Agatha Christie will know. The descriptions of the Abbey make one curious to see it in pleasant times, and determined to avoid it at all costs during really bad weather. The sub-plots are believable, and contribute to the overriding mystery. Dams takes some of the classic mystery traditions and makes them both contemporary and real.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, May 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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