Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting mystery as a vehicle to travel back in time
Cons: Pacing is off a few times, but never for very long
The Bottom Line:
Travel back in time
To solve young woman’s murder
Evokes time and place
Rose Seeks Justice for a Pregnant Young Woman
Last year, we got to meet Rose Carroll, a Quaker midwife in 1888 Massachusetts when the prolific Edith Maxwell started a new historical mystery series. Since I enjoyed that book, I was ready to return to Rose’s world in Called to Justice. It’s a return trip well worth making.
The book opens on the 4th of July, and Rose is among the many in the town of Amesbury out enjoying the festivities. As the parade is going through town, Hannah Breed confides in Rose that she is pregnant. Since Hannah isn’t married and is only in her late teens, Hannah doesn’t know what to do. Marrying the father, a man whose identity Rose wants to keep quiet, isn’t an option either. Rose promises to help Hannah, but she isn’t quite sure how she will do that.
That night, while Rose is enjoying the fireworks with her beau, David, someone starts screaming. Rose and David, who is a doctor, rush to see if they can help only to find that Hannah is dead. Someone used the fireworks to disguise the firing of the gunshot that killed her. Someone from the crowd steps forward and suggests that it was a former slave who shot Hannah. Rose knows the accused since he is also a Quaker, and knows him to be a kind and gentle man who has no motive. Yet the police seem focused on him. Can Rose clear her friend by finding out what really happened?
The book starts out quickly, but I did feel that the pacing of the story was a bit off overall. There are several strong sub-plots along the way that help keep our interest, however, and a couple of those do tie into the main mystery by the end. Of course, all the loose ends are tied up by the climax, which is a real page turner.
Rose lives with her late sister’s family, however we really only see her oldest niece Faith in this book since most of the family has gone to visit Rose’s parents on their farm. That means that our returning characters are a bit limited, however, I really appreciated getting to know Faith better here. Of course, Rose herself is a strong, resourceful character. I felt she overreacted to something at one point, but that was a minor issue and fortunately quickly resolved. The new characters are all strong and serve their purpose as suspects perfectly.
We get a couple scenes of Rose practicing her profession. I was at once fascinated and repulsed by them, but then I’m a guy and a bachelor at that, so discussing birthing makes me easily squeamish.
The setting and time period are really strong in this book. When I was reading, I felt like I was back in 1888. I actually had to laugh at a couple conversations the characters had about that new instrument the telephone and communication in that day and age. It’s always good to remember what life was like and think about how truly spoiled we are in many ways.
So if you are looking for a trip back in time, there is no better guide than Rose. Pick up Called to Justice and enjoy your time travel today.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.