Hell With The Lid Blown Off: An Alafair Tucker Mystery by Donis Casey (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95, 228 pages)
If it hadn’t been for the creek on the Day side, Shaw expected they wouldn’t have been able to find their way at all. The path had been scoured out. The continual lightning threw demonic flashes of light on the collection of leafless, limbless sticks and poles that used to be a stretch of woods. Shaw wondered if hell was similar.
Picture a small Oklahoma town, Boynton, in the time just prior to the United States’ involvement in World War I. There’s trouble brewing overseas and unrest builds within the residents of the greater Boynton area. Among the convoluted casts of characters lurks a murderer. As if life weren’t difficult enough, a tornado whips through town to demolish property and trigger an evil deed.
Hell With The Lid Blown Off is the seventh book in the Alafair Tucker series and the first this reviewer has read. Thankfully, author Donis Casey has provided an extensive list of the characters that includes helpful hints about their personalities. The lists are by family. Alafair Tucker is the mother of ten children, both at home and grown with families of their own. Her husband, Shaw Tucker, is a cousin of the town sheriff, Scott Tucker. There’s a list of the named animals as well.
The pace of the story is slow and folksy at first. The everyday activities and interactions are presented under headings that list the primary character’s point of view. Trenton Calder, the deputy sheriff, is the one exception because he narrates the sections listed under his name. A few of the names seem odd. Perhaps the era and locale account for the strangeness. The daily activities are classic early 1900s farm and family work. A mix of automobiles and horses remind the reader that transportation modes transitioned during the era.
Before, During and After are the titles of the three divisions of the book. Trouble is brewing from the very beginning although the reader may not sense it right away. The tornado is a key element of the second and third parts.
As with most mysteries and novels, food preparation and dining infuse the characters with life. Author Casey graciously concludes her book with a glossary of words likely unknown to the reader and a section devoted to several of Alafair’s recipes.
Well recommended to fans of life on the prairie and mysteries in general.
A review copy was provided by a publicist.