Friday, March 04, 2011

Burying the Hatchet
by Chris Well

Book cover:

What happens when a psychic and a minister are invited to a debate, and both walk into the room but only one leaves alive? Longtime grump earl Walker thinks it may be time to find a different church as his new pastor is now a suspect in a murder. But can Earl’s lady friend convince him to stand up for his newfound friends and fight for the truth?
My take:

Another winner by Chris Wells.
He brings in a lot of the same characters:
  • Earl Walker with his inquisitive mind and irascible nature, although he’s mellowed a lot since attending church,
  •  Gloria Logan, vivacious, helpful, and caring.
  • Jenny Hutton, “College,” who’s still young and innocent, and a little annoying, too.
  • Deputy Landon Fisher, who doesn’t seem all that bright but willing to be helpful and convinced.
What is it when you throw a minister/pastor and a psychic together in a story? A book you can’t put down. Enemies, per se, the two are invited to a public debate, but only one of them comes out of it alive. Earl, and his friends, is convinced the pastor is innocent of murdering Montague Black, the psychic, as much as the county sheriff is convinced of his guilt.

Right in the thick of the county and federal investigation, Earl, spurred on by Gloria and Jenny’s faith in him, pursues the truth needed to clear his pastor of murder, even if it means tangling with the FBI. One step at a time, Earl peels away the illusions that cloud the real clues. Did Black really disappear and reappear from the death scene? In spite of no way to leave, how could a murderer, other than the pastor, have gotten away? And what does the psychic’s death have to do with three other senior people’s demises in the community?

Add to the above plot is the attention-grabbing subplot of romance between Gloria and Earl. Earl, who’s not afraid to take the bull by the horns in questioning suspects, shies away from confessing his love for Gloria. And though we can see—feel—Gloria’s yearning for him to speak “the words,” Well makes us wait right up to the end for Earl to finally reveal his heart to her.

Once again, the author takes a cast of characters and makes them come alive. They are people who could live in our own neighborhoods, people we could pass on the streets every day. Their personalities are flawed and real and with whom we can identify. Well is not afraid to talk about Earl dropping his dentures behind the sink, yet his character’s heart flutters at Gloria’s beautiful eyes. Gloria’s strong faith and contrasting fear for Earl’s safety is touching. Jenny’s methodical yet understanding ways and Deputy Fisher’s behind the scene’s help in finding the real murderer in spite of his fear of disobeying the sheriff’s orders—both have you rooting for these characters.
Once again, Well brings in wonderful touches with the settings.

  • Earl’s home, his lack of food supplies, his daily routines, and the ever muted tv
  • The restaurants: the first, noisy and kid-filled, the second, quiet and tasty food
  • Church with its marbled blend of personalities
  •  Media with its ever present search for stories
  • Rest and nursing homes and the sometimes humorous, but always respectful attitude toward the elderly with their variety of physical problems, but capabilities of leading profitable lives
All in all, another wonderful, interesting mystery tale with its subtle hints that kept me guessing. I loved Well’s tributes to several different master writers of this genre. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a classic mystery novel.

1 comment:

Jeanette Levellie said...

I do love a classic mystery novel! This one sounds superb. Thanks for the review, dear.

Happy Weekend,

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