The Devil's Cold Dish
Review: Weaver and farmer Will Rees is asked by the local constable to assist him at the scene of a murder, a man found high in the Maine hills killed by a rifle shot. Will accompanies him, only to discover it was a man that Will had publicly argued with just that morning. And now he finds himself accused of the crime, in The Devil's Cold Dish, the fifth mystery in this series by Eleanor Kuhns.
The constable doesn't believe Will had anything to do with killing the man, but collectively the townsfolk aren't so sure. As a weaver, Will travels extensively selling his cloth leaving the day-to-day operation of the farm to his 15-year-old son David. Too, he's recently remarried to a former Shaker, a religion that many believe practice a form of witchcraft. When animals go missing on the farm, the beehives torched, and his loom destroyed, Will believes someone is targeting his family. The situation only worsens when the miller is found murdered, hung upside down with Will's wife's homemade candles surrounding him. The magistrate calls for Will to be arrested, and when Will runs, he orders that he be shot on sight. How can he protect his family and learn who is trying to destroy him if he can't be seen in public?
Set in late 1700's New England, The Devil's Cold Dish is at best a disappointing novel. Though the murder mystery plot is well-executed, if also rather thin, it suffers primarily from an otherwise intelligent, rational series lead turned into an emotional, irrational bumbling fool. True, he's concerned about his family, but that's one of the reasons why these storylines that cut too close to home rarely turn out well. It's far more interesting to watch Will Rees reason out the hows and whys someone was killed when he doesn't have a personal stake in the outcome; when it's his own wife the villagers want to string up he can't think straight, resulting in a meandering narrative that tends to focus on, and be overly repetitive in expressing, Will's anguish. Some of the hallmarks of what has made this outstanding series so enjoyable to date are present here — the strong sense of time and place, and a finely drawn cast of characters, Will Rees included when he's not whining or whimpering — but this latest entry is simply not on par with the previous books of the series.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of The Devil's Cold Dish for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Death in Salem
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), June 2015
ISBN-13: 9781250067029; ISBN-10: 1250067022
Location(s) referenced in The Devil's Cold Dish: Maine
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The Devil's Cold Dish by Eleanor Kuhns — A Will Rees Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 2016
List Price: $26.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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