THE PERRELY PLIGHT: A Mystery at Sturbridge by Peter John Stephens
Kirkus Star

THE PERRELY PLIGHT: A Mystery at Sturbridge

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It does spin out a little too long for the unity of time, place, and action demanded in the best adult mystery fiction, but there is a genuine aura of suspense and a dramatic tension inherent in the basic situation. This comes from a family feud carried on New England style, which generally means generations of cold shouldering rather than the Hillbilly fussin'. The Perrelys lived in the Hollow. The Martindales lived near town. Twelve-year-old Gibeon Martindale had been warned away from the Hollow and the Perrely family all his life without explanation. The mere mention of the name was enough to get his gem of a curmudgeonly grandmother spitting in the fireplace and biting on her pipe. Gib's first meeting with the Perrely brood was accidental and he was fascinated by the half Indian/half Puritan brother and sister. The plot moves through well drawn trial scenes as Gib falls afoul of a typical 1830's atmosphere -- boys could be tried on circumstantial evidence, especially from a crotchety old miser's view of boys as limbs of Satan. The Martindale/Perrely feud is well handled, Gib's involvement is true to the time and there is enough boy/girl interest to catch the early mystery fan and keep him. Strong regional market -- and more because the mystery, praise Sherlock, is mysterious.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1965
Publisher: Atheneum