Hearts and Bones
By Margaret Lawrence
In an American nation newly born, in the killing freeze of merciless Maine winter, one remarkable woman - a midwife who helps bring life into this world - must now confront death in its most depraved and treacherous form...
The physical and emotional scars of the Revolutionary War are an important part of this tremendous new first mystery -- the most exciting debut since Laurie R. King and The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Like King's Mary Russell, the heroine of Lawrence's book is an unconventional woman, unwilling to be forced into an historical mold. Hannah Trevor is a gifted, educated midwife who carries wisdom and sorrow with her in equal measures: one husband and three children dead, another daughter born out of wedlock and deaf. When a young woman is raped and murdered, leaving behind a note that implicates her daughter's father, Hannah is the only person in the small Maine town of Rufford with enough insight and experience to uncover the truth.
From Publishers Weekly
Set in 1786 in the township of Rufford, Maine, Lawrence's impressive historical suspense debut poses a fascinating conundrum and vivifies the society in which it arose. The story centers on the investigation by midwife Hannah Trevor of the rape and strangulation death of a young mother, Anthea Emory. According to a letter presumably written by Anthea, the dead woman was raped on three successive nights, by three different men, before one of them finally killed her. One of the three men accused is Daniel Josselyn, father of Hannah's illegitimate seven-year-old daughter. Because the marks on Anthea's neck match the imprint of Daniel's three-fingered hand, he becomes the target of a lynch mob and flees in search of Anthea's husband, whom he believes can shed light on her sad life and tragic death. Before following Daniel into the dangerous wintry wilderness to save him from the mob, Hannah finds that two of the three men accused in Anthea's letter, along with Constable William Quaid, were members of a Rufford Patriot division that stumbled into an ambush at Webb's Ford in 1777. In retaliation, three of the Patriots raped Anthea, then a young girl, and slaughtered her family. The final revelation of Anthea's killer comes as a surprise, although several plot strands are left vague, and a few discrepancies are disquieting. At intervals, inquest transcripts, recipes, diary excerpts and marginally relevant testimonials punctuate the narrative, vividly evoking the Revolutionary period and providing authentic, if occasionally obtrusive background detail. While not perfectly fluid, the story commands attention as it immerses readers in its mystery and the past; like the extended quilt metaphor that runs through it, this novel is greater than the sum of its parts.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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