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Witch Cradle
Constable John McIntire Series #2

by Kathleen Hills

      Witch Cradle combines two things I like in a book - a challenging mystery and a peek into an area I knew nothing about. The time is January 1951, and the place: Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Constable John McIntire has a bit of cabin fever and he welcomes the challenge when a storm uncovers some mysterious clues hidden in a glass jar on his neighbors' property. Following the clues results in more discoveries: skeletons (both literal and figurative) that lead to the end of a lot more than McIntire's boredom.

Woven throughout the story are peeks at the paranoia and over-reaction of the U.S. government and its people to Senator McCarthy's Red Scare. It offers a fascinating glimpse at a time in history that is particularly relevant to our society today. I found the mystery intriguing, filled with twists and turns. The characterization in the book added tremendous depth to the story as McIntire struggles with the conflict between his digging into the skeletons in the lives of others, while fighting to keep his own buried. Like the frigid winter, the plot moves slowly, almost painfully at times - but the pace seems appropriate, giving the reader time to contemplate the complex web of action, reactions, and relationships. Hill's work is strongly compelling with a depth that leaves you pondering the characters and their choices well after the mystery is unwrapped.

The Book

Poisoned Pen Press
March 2006
Historical Mystery [1951 USA]
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The Reviewer

Jan Fields
Reviewed 2006
NOTE: Reviewer Jan Fields is the editor of Kid Magazine Writers emagazine and has written dozens of stories and articles for the children's magazine market.
© 2006