John McIntire leaves the largely Norwegian rural community of St Adele to fight in the First World War until the late 1940s, when he returns with a British wife and takes up the post of constable. The utopia of long, hot summers and boyhood friendships seems a world away to the returning ex-military intelligence operative and when murder strikes, it threatens to change all his perceptions forever. Nels Bertelson, the son of a settler who came to raise apples is found dead on his fishing boat, stung to death by bees. He was allergic to them and had been terrified for years that he would die this way, but foul play is soon suspected and then the body count begins to rise.
As a whodunit, this
tale lacked momentum and the crime certainly wasn't the most interesting
thing about the book. What kept me reading it late into the night is the
wonderful evocation of a lost America, a rural community on the shores
of Lake Superior in the late 40s, contrasted with the turn of the 20th
century, a time that seems even more remote. Kathleen Hills has conjured
up some fascinating characters to populate her story and has given them
a beautiful landscape in which to commit their crimes and hide their secrets.
Replete with what R L Stevenson would have termed "judicious levity,"
it balances out tragedy and drama until somehow the leisurely pace almost
doesn't matter. I hope that we will be reading more about John McIntire
and St Adele.
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