Show Me Good Land
Review: Following the murder of a woman in a small, remote northern Maine town, many lives are affected — but several in particular — in Show Me Good Land, a debut novel of suspense by Shonna Milliken Humphrey.
Sheila Hollander was stabbed to death in her own trailer home, which shared a driveway with her nephew Emmett Pratt. Emmett becomes the prime suspect — in fact, the only suspect — in her murder. Sheila had been trying to raise $10,000 to bail her son out of jail. A small fortune, an impossible task, given the town's poverty and her own limited means of support. Meanwhile, Emmett has his own money problems. A diligent saver, he had been putting away a small amount from his meager salary at the local gas station. But then he discovers his brother Johnny helping himself to the savings. Rhetta Ballou, born in the area but determined to make a better life for herself after, as a child, she sees a lady in a red coat that she comes to believe represents change and choice, left long ago. Now 35-years-old, she's returning for Sheila's funeral, setting off a flood of memories of why she chose to leave in the first place.
Far more of a character study — or possibly more accurately, a way-of-life study — than a mystery, Show Me Good Land is vividly written, depicting an environment that happens to be in Maine, but given a different backdrop, could be Anytown USA. Sheila's murder is largely a plot device to bring these characters together, for them to take a look at their own lives, where they've been, where they dream to be. In many ways this novel is a fascinating snapshot into the life experiences of a random ensemble of very interesting people, with a common connection to a town but not necessarily to each other.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Show Me Good Land.
Acknowledgment: Down East Books provided a copy of Show Me Good Land for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Show Me Good Land: Maine
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Show Me Good Land by Shonna Milliken Humphrey
Publisher: Down East Books
Publication Date: April 2011
List Price: $24.95