Acquired Book By: I have been hosting for Poetic Book Tours for a few years now, where I am finding myself encouraged to seek out collections of poetry or incredible fiction being published through Small Trade publishers and presses. I have an Indie spirit and mentality as a writer and I appreciate finding authors who are writing creative works through Indie resources as I find Indies have a special spirit about them. It is a joy to work with Poetic Book Tours for their resilience in seeking out voices in Literature which others might overlook and thereby, increasing my own awareness of these beautiful lyrical voices in the craft.
When I realised this was the first ‘book’ in a series, I requested to receive the first book (“On the Rocks”) in order to understand the continuity and flow between the lead characters within the second installment. It is a personal preference of mine to read series ‘in order’ and I was blessed I could start this one at the beginning! I received a complimentary copy of “Death Comes” direct from the publicist of Sue Hallgarth in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I love reading the Willa Cather & Edith Lewis Mysteries:
Edith arrives first – her observational notations on gulls in flight offer a fond glimpse into how I’m not the only one who likes to contemplate our aerial companions! Her perspective also grounds us ‘where’ she is at the moment she’s seen – she’s just off the coast of what is known as ‘Downeast’ Maine – specifically by a city known for it’s grain mustard and a revitalisation of it’s community identity through the Arts: Eastport. To the starboard side of the towne, you will happily see you’re only a stone’s throw from the Fundy Isles and this part of where Edith & Willa’s story is uniquely set. This part of the North Atlantic has it’s own pulse and tone – life is not lived in the same fashion as elsewhere nor does the world touch this part of the world with the same fierce fire. Here, is a place where time is not measured in hours but in how far you’ve come to create a piece you’re working on whilst celebrating the journey you’ve taken to funnel your creativity into something ‘new’. I could ‘see’ Edith here – the heart of a naturalist who appreciates being out-of-doors (but with dirt beneath her feet, not the unease of water) where she can feel one with the harmonic rhythm of the natural world. No wonder she appreciated the art of painting in ‘Plein Air’ fashion!
Edith charmed me and Willa encouraged my inquisitive nature – the two of them have such an ease about their personalities. They find a companionable equality in how where one thinks about something specific, the other is ready for a follow-up remark – they are two minds which sometimes act as one, as most couples tend to claim for themselves. They knew how to get the neighbours to talk about the idle things no one suspects would mean something whilst they kept a steady eye on their own affairs, too. Their sleuthing simply fit into the background of their days; it was a welcome addition but not one which overshadowed their other interests, either! As they continued to seek answers to questions which seemed unending – you started to notice why they thrived outside the city (here: New York City). This community of Grand Manan is as quirky and humbly eccentric as all my favourite small townes in fiction (or IRL).
This was a thinking man’s mystery – the ‘mystery’ in of itself is also unique, because instead of being an isolated incident it’s a piece of a wider puzzle! I like how mysteries take on an enlarged cusp of an area’s secrets – of how whilst the reader has to stay patient to understand the different components of what is being fused together, it’s the manner of how things pull apart and are put back together in proper order which is the most exciting! For me, this mystery was wicked enjoyable if only to draw further insight into understanding the people of Grand Manan and how where they live influences their lives.
The way Hallgarth paints the portrait of the island community rings true of what I know of this area myself – of where neighbours pitch in to help one another and where no one is ever left without assistance for something they’re working on. It’s the opposite of how many townes and cities function on the mainland stateside – where there are clear distinctions and disconnections amongst neighbours and community members; where each are practically living on their own ‘island’ (metaphorically speaking!).
The pace of the narrative is set in such a way to encourage you to sip tea and musefully ponder what your reading – to fully sense and feel this world, whilst allowing Willa and Edith to share the duties for how you navigate it. It’s one of those lovely immersive narratives where you can get lost in the descriptive narrative and feel as if you’ve lived half a moon in this setting. She has given all of us the chance to ‘know’ Willa Cather up close and personal – ahead of reading her stories – of peering into what was important to her and why she felt the legacy she left behind might slip past people who hadn’t realised the point behind her stories. Intuitive readers would notice and see her messages, but to the casual reader? I can see how her narratives might be glossed over for what was readily taken as the truth of what they revealled.
-quoted from my review of On the Rocks
As soon as I returnt back inside the series – I found myself alighting so readily true to where we’d find Willa and Edith, it felt as if no time had elapsed between visitations! I truly love the continuity of this series, but also, the authentic voice Ms Hallgarth has given her characters – they truly feel as if they are the women themselves, recaptured for us to acquaint ourselves directly of their living hours. It is a special treat indeed, to find myself wholly enthused by such an intricately written Cosy Historical Mystery series – but to have the benefit of being able to read the first and second novels in successive order, is simply wicked divine!
Subtitle: A Willa Cather & Edith Lewis Mystery
Death Comes gives us another glimpse into the life and work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and her talented life partner. The year is 1926. Willa and Edith return to Mabel Dodge Luhan’s pink adobe in Taos, New Mexico.
Willa is writing Death Comes for the Archbishop. Edith is sketching Taos Pueblo and hoping for a visit to the nearby D.H. Lawrence ranch. The previous summer they had stumbled onto a woman’s body. Now the headless bodies of two women add to the mystery. Sue Hallgarth presents an intimate portrait of Cather, Lewis, the spectacular New Mexico landscape, and the famous artists and writers Mabel Dodge Luhan gathered in Taos.
Places to find the book:
on 1st October, 2017
Published By: Arbor Farm Press
Available Formats: Paperback & Ebook
The Willa Cather & Edith Lewis Mysteries:
Book One: On the Rocks (see also Review)
Book Two: Death Comes
Converse via: #WillaCather and #EdithLewis + #CosyMysteries or #Mysteries
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge