Death in Salem
Review: Will Rees is heading back home to Lydia, his pregnant wife, and family in Maine, stopping in Salem, Massachusetts to purchase fine cloth as a gift for Lydia. He is stopped by a funeral procession bearing the deceased body of Mrs. Antiss Boothe and spots the undertaker, Rees' old friend "Twig", who saved Will's life in the Revolutionary War. Since it is late in the day, Twig talks Rees into staying over, and starting his journey home the next day. But in the morning Twig hastens to Will's room and begs him to stay and help him, in Death in Salem, the fourth mystery in this series set in the late 18th century by Eleanor Kuhns.
The woman he loves, Xenobia, a slave owned by the Boothes, has just been arrested for the murder of Jacob Boothe, the husband of the woman they had just buried the day before. Rees reluctantly agrees, and is drawn into the curious lives of the Boothe family. The eldest, William, is now the owner and manager of Boothe's powerful shipping and trading business on Salem Harbor. Margaret (Peggy), who had been her father's secretary, had also been doing a man's job by keeping tabs on all of their business operations concerning their ships cargo coming and going while William was away. She was what her brothers called "most unfeminine". Elizabeth (Betsy), on the other hand, was petite, delicate, beautiful and very lady-like. She was engaged to be married. Matthew (Matty), the youngest, was not interested in the business or the sea. He was an actor in amateur theatricals, who received an allowance from his family, but not enough to cover his gambling debts and from going to brothels, and such. Because he really can't afford it and his father had refused to up his allowance until he began to do real work, he sneaks into the warehouses and takes small items brought back from India, China, etc., and sells them. Rees found his way onto the docks and in hidden tunnels, where it seemed most men he met had a secret they refused to talk about. Even the children of Jacob kept vital information from him. With all his expertise in solving murders, how can he break this case when no one will be honest with him?
There is a strong sense of time and place in Death in Salem, from men and boys working on the whaling and merchant ships to the women accused of being witches and put to death. Will Rees is an engaging, vibrant character, who loves and misses his family but is torn between returning as quickly as possible and helping out an old friend, who once saved his life. The murder mystery storyline is an intriguing one, well-structured and paced. Fans will embrace this strong addition to the series, and new readers will likely seek out the earlier books.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Death in Salem.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Death in Salem for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Cradle to Grave
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), June 2014
ISBN-13: 9781250050007; ISBN-10: 1250050006
The Devil's Cold Dish
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), June 2016
ISBN-13: 9781250093356; ISBN-10: 125009335X
Location(s) referenced in Death in Salem: Massachusetts
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Death in Salem by Eleanor Kuhns — A Will Rees Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 2015
List Price: $26.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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