THE VALLEY OF THE JEWELS
by Mary Saums
Willi Taft Mystery No. 2
Silver Dagger Mysteries - July 2001
ISBN: 1570721882 - Hardcover
Amatuer Sleuth Mystery
Reviewed by Barbara
Willi Taft, background singer from Nashville and private investigator, needs money and takes a job teaching a commercial music course at Grisham Faulkner University. She develops a friendship with Dr. Judo Winston, history professor and Civil War aficionado. He tells her she is the image of Nell Sullivan, wife of Confederate Captain Sullivan. Willi agrees to play the part of Nell in the reenactment of the Battle of Ridley. The professor is stabbed with his own knife during the reenactment.
Althea Preston, retired opera star, returns to her birthplace near Ridley and receives threatening letters with KKK symbols and swastikas. She hires Willi to find the culprit. Willi is threatened with murder and finds the connection between Winston's murder and Preston's troubles is buried in events in the Civil War which are divulged in diaries.
This is a well-written mystery with a skillful blend of the past and the present. The characters are drawn from life and are believable. The plot is intriguing. The portrayal of the KKK rally with its skinheads is frightening in its implications. The description of the Alabama and Tennessee countrysides is vivid. The reader is given a glimpse of northern Alabama as it existed in the past and in the present with ancient hates still prevalent that impede the progress of racial tolerance.
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