Friday, June 12, 2015

Defending the Dead (Relatively Dead Mysteries Book 3)

Author:  Sheila Connolly
Genre:  Mystery

Kindle, ASIN: B00WTBTRHU; Beyond the Page; 224 pages; $3.99; April 27, 2015

Three Stars


Abby Kimball has slowly accepted her recently discovered ability to see the dead, but none of the harmless sightings she's experienced could have prepared her for the startling apparition of a centuries-old courtroom scene - where she locks eyes with a wicked and gleeful accuser.  Thrown back more than three hundred years, Abby realizes she's been plunged into a mystery that has fascinated people throughout American history:  the Salem witch trials.

With her boyfriend Ned at her side, Abby digs into the history of events, researching the people ad possible causes of that terrible time and her own connection to them - all the while going more deeply into her connection to Ned, both extraordinary and romantic.

As Abby witnesses more fragments from the events in Salem and struggles with the question of how such a nightmare could have come about, she's suddenly confronted with a pressing personal question:  Were one or more of her ancestors among the accused?  Unraveling the puzzling clues behind that questions just might give Abby and Ned the answer to a very modern mystery of their own.    

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Abby Kimball has recently lost her job and moved into the Victorian home of her boyfriend, Ned Newhall.  She spends her days attempting to bring the home back into the glory of what it once looked like; and when she's not doing that, she's...hunting ghost ancestors.  For those of you not familiar with this series, Abby can see the dead; but not any dead - she sees her dead ancestors.

She has recently discovered this ability, unlike Ned, who has lived with it his entire life.  Ned's mother Sarah also has the ability, and so does Ellie, a seven-year-old girl whom Abby has befriended, the daughter of her ex-employer Leslie (and the reason she was let go from her job).

At the present, Abby is concerned with the Salem witch trials.  She has discovered a relative, but doesn't quite yet know how it fits in, so naturally wants to know how and why.  Ned, although not as enthusiastic about the subject, agrees to take Abby to Salem to further her exploration...

...and there we have the basic plot of the book.  This is the third in the series, and I am sad to say, I did not enjoy it as much as the first two.  A great part of the book was Abby doing her genealogy research, which is fine, as I also am interested in genealogy.  The difference is that I'm not involving anyone else in my research except those who are truly interested in it.  This, unfortunately, makes the book run slower than it ordinarily should.  There is so much involvement regarding the witch trials, that very little time is given to anything else.  Which is not to say I didn't know this going in:  I knew the book would have references and a plot line regarding the trials, I just didn't know it would be a major portion of the book.  There is supposition as to why the trials occurred in the first place, and descriptions of Salem and surrounding areas where it occurred.  If you are interested in the trials, you will find this book interesting; if not, probably not so much.

This is by no means a cozy mystery.  It is dark, and has dark issues to deal with, so if you are expecting anything light and 'frothy' you will be dissatisfied.  There isn't a murder to be solved, no deep dark secrets to be revealed, no peril to our heroine or her loved ones.  It is a book that basically deals with the witch trials, and Abby's relationship to some of the participants.

While I understood what Abby is going through just trying to understand her new-found abilities, I personally felt more time was spent on research and the trials, and less on her relationship with Ned, her fledgling relationship with Ellie, and her strained relationship with Leslie.  They seemed to have taken a back seat to the other part of the story.

However, the writing is good, as always, and what we have come to expect from Ms. Connolly, who does very well in this area.  Since I enjoyed the first two in the series, I will probably read the next.



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