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In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cat Winters
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
Timothy Egan

The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton (Laurence Bartram Mysteries)

The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton - Elizabeth Speller While I relished the author's first book The Return of Captain John Emmett which established this series, I have qualms with this one. There are a multitude of facets which remained consistent between the two books which I enjoyed. The years after WWI in the UK offer opportunities for interesting characterizations and an understanding of the effects of war upon a society and individuals within that society. In this new book, the stage of a manor mystery is appealing.The structure of the novel was challenging. It was a character drama for the first half of the book, with introductions, interactions and explanations revealing the day to day life in a manor house where not very much happens, but a rich, painful history is explored. Mid-way into the book, the plot kicks into gear with a major development, and then the pace quickens considerably. The last pages continue to reveal the remaining threads of the story, almost as an epilogue, considering the entire drama was established with a particular premise. The ending proved too much of a segue into the next installment, especially after the drama took overly long to establish and then gain it's own momentum. I wish I could say there was more resonance with the various characters and the time taken with them in the first half of the novel. Conversely, the accelerated pace of the second half of the novel, while greatly welcomed, seemed to lack a satisfying evolution and conclusion of the relationships among the wide cast of characters. All of this may be confusing, and my apologies if it is so. To go into greater detail would reveal too much of the story, and I certainly don't want to prejudice another reader who may have different views. I appreciate the literary flair the author brings to her work and look forward to the next book.