Tag Archives: An Alafair Tucker Mystery

Life in the Slow Lane

All Men Fear Me

All Men Fear Me: An Alafair Tucker Mystery by Donis Casey (Poisoned Pen Press, $26.95, 302 pages)

Well, now, Charlie, just because I disapprove of this war doesn’t mean I’m a traitor. I think of myself as a patriot, and a patriot of the real kind. This is my big, messy country. I love it. I want for it to be the best country there is. If it suffer ills, I want to cure them. I want for every citizen to enjoy all its rights and privileges, and I believe it is my duty to try and help that happen.

One part history lesson, one part family drama and two parts man’s inhumanity to man is the recipe for Donis Casey’s eighth installment of life in rural Oklahoma in 1917. Alafair Tucker is the center of her large family – 10 children ranging in age from 25 to four years of age, husband Shaw, and her brother Robin. Robin, a labor organizer, is visiting after being away for ten years. The rabid fans of war and nationalism in the small town of Boynton view Robin’s organizing efforts as Socialist-leaning and contrary to the ways of true Americans.

The country has recently entered World War I and a draft has been set in place to raise an army. Alafair is trying mightily to balance her love of her brother with the fervent longings of her 16-year-old son, Charlie, who desperately wants to enlist in the military. The townspeople of Boynton are divided between being suspicious of anyone perceived as “foreign” and their loyalty to long-time friends and neighbors. Kurt Lukenbach, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Germany is married to one of Alafair’s daughters. The more rabid patriots in town regard Kurt with suspicion and hostility.

There is trouble all around in Oklahoma. It’s as though the wood for a fire has been laid and along comes a man with a can of gasoline and a match to hasten the process. The stranger in the bowler hat who arrives in town at the start of the story is literally the catalyst that brings latent hate and fear to a flash point.

Author Casey takes her sweet time setting up the action in this book. Although it is considered a mystery novel, it is more of a history lesson with a covert mystery imbedded within the text. Readers who enjoy a slowly paced and thoroughly detailed story will enjoy this installment of the Tucker family goings on.

As with many books that feature the daily diet of the characters, All Men Fear Me has at the back several recipes featured in the story. Additionally, a calendar of the war rules pertaining to food is listed for readers who curiously enjoy details with their murders.

Recommended to readers fond of life in the slow lane.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book was released on November 3, 2015.

You can read a review of Hell With The Lid Blown Off: An Alafair Tucker Mystery here:


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We’re Off to See the Wizard

Hell With (nook book)

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.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by a publicist.

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Hell With the Lid Blown Off

A review of Hell With The Lid Blown Off: An Alafair Tucker Mystery by Donis Casey.

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