THE TORCHING by Marcy Heidish


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 Heidish, author of fictional biographies of women with extra dimensions of spiritual or psychological strength--Tubman, Hutchinson, Seton--has tried her hand at mystery successfully (Deadline, 1992) and here utilizes, with considerable verve, that staple of mystic tales and science fiction--the scraping together of two time periods while the protagonist unwittingly unlocks the time-travel door. The present in Georgetown, Virginia, and the Colonial period in Maryland are the times and dangerous places. Alice Grey, owner of Wetherell Rare Books in Georgetown and founder of the ``Writers Block,'' a club of authors, is writing a history of a possible 1738 martyr, Evangeline Smith, midwife of Maidstone, Maryland, accused of witchcraft and presumably burned. As Alice launches her study, two centuries' worth of rumpuses begin. Bookcases heaving out their books and the smell of smoke are small potatoes compared to what is to come: two deaths (one discovered in the bookstore's dumbwaiter), revelations about two deaths in Maidstone long ago, persecution, and scandal--a scandal repeated now as Alice's erstwhile friends draw up in attack formation. Then there are those eyes--animal and, ugh, human--that are found in the darnedest places. Thanks to Alice's lover, pilot Jake, she's saved from being herself murdered, but there's a wild close in which the parallel lines of Alice's and Evangeline's stories seem to meet and flames lick upward--while Alice faxes out the conclusion of her Evangeline book. A peppy, hard-working, shuddery mystery-suspense with supernatural overtones.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-74375-9
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1991


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