Kent has more fun with the Londoners—Johnny Depp could play almost any of the baddies—than her somewhat morose ancestors,...

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THE WOLVES OF ANDOVER

In this prequel to The Heretic’s Daughter (2008), Kent tells the fictionalized story of her ancestor Martha Carrier’s courtship with her future husband years before she became a victim of the Salem Witch Trials.

In 1673, Martha’s father sends her to help her pregnant cousin Patience, whose husband Daniel is often away from the family’s farm near Andover. He’s also hoping she’ll find a proper suitor among the local clergy. Instead she’s drawn to one of the two indentured hired men on the farm. An unusually tall Welshman approaching 50, Thomas Carrier carries himself with an air of mystery and authority that intrigues Martha despite herself, especially after he kills the wolves menacing the farm. Those wolves, which Martha dangerously approaches before Thomas shoots them, resemble the band of assassins sent to Massachusetts from London by a minion of King Charles II, who wants to avenge the death of his father, the Catholic Charles I killed by Cromwell. The book cuts between Martha’s growing relationship with Thomas and the assassins’ ill-fated mission as the killers drop off one by one, victims of double-cross, drowning, poison and warring Indians. Martha soon learns that Thomas served as the King’s guard as a youth before joining Cromwell’s cause. He was indeed the one who brought the ax down on Charles I’s head, but he later lost faith in Cromwell when he saw him becoming a despot. As the surviving assassin draws closer, Martha—who has her own secret—fears she has inadvertently betrayed Thomas’s secret when Patience finds the diary in which Martha wrote down his story. But Daniel, like most of his neighbors, is a staunch defender of Protestantism. For all his evil, diabolic planning, the assassin never has a chance.

Kent has more fun with the Londoners—Johnny Depp could play almost any of the baddies—than her somewhat morose ancestors, but she lovingly captures their daily grind and brings looming dangers, whether man or beast, to harrowing life.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-06862-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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A unique story about Appalachia and the healing power of the written word.

THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK

One of Kentucky’s last living “Blue People” works as a traveling librarian in 1930s Appalachia.

Cussy Mary Carter is a 19-year-old from Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. She was born with a rare genetic condition, and her skin has always been tinged an allover deep blue. Cussy lives with her widowed father, a coal miner who relentlessly attempts to marry her off. Unfortunately, with blue skin and questionable genetics, Cussy is a tough sell. Cussy would rather keep her job as a pack-horse librarian than keep house for a husband anyway. As part of the new governmental program aimed at bringing reading material to isolated rural Kentuckians, Cussy rides a mule over treacherous terrain, delivering books and periodicals to people of limited means. Cussy’s patrons refer to her as “Bluet” or “Book Woman,” and she delights in bringing them books as well as messages, medicine, and advice. When a local pastor takes a nefarious interest in Cussy, claiming that God has sent him to rid society of her “blue demons,” efforts to defend herself leave Cussy at risk of arrest, or worse. The local doctor agrees to protect Cussy in exchange for her submission to medical testing. As Doc finds answers about Cussy’s condition, she begins to re-examine what it means to be a Blue and what life after a cure might look like. Although the novel gets off to a slow start, once Cussy begins traveling to the city for medical testing, the stakes get higher, as does the suspense of the story. Cussy's first-person narrative voice is engaging, laced with a thick Kentucky accent and colloquialisms of Depression-era Appalachia. Through the bigotry and discrimination Cussy suffers as a result of her skin color, the author artfully depicts the insidious behavior that can result when a society’s members feel threatened by things they don't understand. With a focus on the personal joy and broadened horizons that can result from access to reading material, this well-researched tale serves as a solid history lesson on 1930s Kentucky.

A unique story about Appalachia and the healing power of the written word.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7152-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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