Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stolen Hearts

I just finished the best book I've read so far in 2013—Stolen Hearts, by Jane Tesh of Mt. Airy, NC. It was published by Poisoned Pen Press in October 2011 and has been reviewed by both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

I'd acquired my copy when I met Jane last July in the "Meet the Authors" tent at  Mountain Meadows Festival in Meadows of Dan, but I hadn't gotten around to reading it until the other day. Laid up with a pulled muscle in my back, I suddenly had time to tackle the stack of books I'd meant to get around to reading when I had time. Stolen Hearts was near the top.

The back of the book promised an interesting read:

And it was indeed an interesting read. Here's why I liked Stolen Hearts so much:

1. A heck of a good opening line: "I didn't expect a murder to happen right down the street from my second wife's house, but then, I didn't expect a lot of things, including sleeping in my car." That opening raised a lot of questions, and I wanted to know the answers.

2. Appalachian lit, my favorite literary category: The setting, a small town in North Carolina, was almost a character itself. Local color abounded. One of the mysteries involved who wrote some particular mountain music from many decades earlier—and whether there was a murder or suicide involved.

3.Characters: They were quirky and well-developed—what you'd expect in a small town—and each carried some baggage. And the main characters were likable and believable.

4. Narrator: I like stories told in the first person, not only for character development, but also for the limited viewpoint. Private investigator David Randall makes a good narrator. He adds necessary details, anguishes over his shortcomings in life, and keeps plugging away.

5. Paranormal aspect: Cam, Randall's friend and owner of the house where Randall and some others stay, is psychic and unwillingly channels the spirit of an arrogant John Burrows Ashford.

6. Cover: The house on the cover looked exactly like the one my grandparents lived in when I was between ten and thirteen.

7. Title: "Stolen Hearts" refers not only a heart-shaped locket Randall was hired to find, but also to the music that was in dispute. Plus, Randall was attracted to a young woman who was engaged to someone else.

8. Plot: This page-turner is well-crafted with plenty of twists and turns and surprises. Not only is Randall involved in solving a couple of current mysteries, but also the mystery from the past. Foreshadowing is subtle and effective. All the loose ends are tied up. 

I really liked this book and plan to read more of Jane Tesh's work. Stolen Hearts is the first in the "Grace Street" series, and book two, Mixed Signals, came out last October. I just added it to my Amazon wish list.

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