Monday, April 25, 2011

History meets the modern world in a fine novel

I just finished reading Charlotte Hinger's Lethal Lineage. Charlotte and I have been friends for years, since our days in Western Writers of America (I suspect Charlotte is still a lot more active than I am), and I always considered her Come Spring a classic about life on the western prairies for women. Now she's turned her hand to mysteries--and a fine hand it turns out to be. Award-winning Deadly Descent was first in the Lottie Albright series (and I enjoyed it a great deal). Now it's followed by Lethal Lineage.
Having lived in western Kansas for most of her adult life, Charlotte knows that barren, wind-swept land and its people like she knows her own soul, and she pours that knowledge into her mysteries. Lottie, however, is a relative newcomer, albeit married to a longtime vet/rancher. Still Charlotte shows us Lottie learning about the land and its people, particularly by serving as head of the local historical society where she encourages people to submit written and oral bits of their histories.
Charlotte effectively blends that knowledge of the land with deep and thorough research, this time into the Episcopalian church in western Kansas, the ancient practice of glebes (land assigned to support a priest). Glebes were fairly common in the East, but there was only one in western Kansas. In addition, she weaves into her story the horrors of Africa's Hutu-Tutsi Wars and the terror that survivors carried with them, even into new lives in this country. And the oral histories of the folk of western Kansas weave into this in an amazing conclusion.
Hats off to Charlotte. This is the kind of book I wish I could write, and I give it five stars. Read it. You will too.
I understand that the FCC says if I am going to review books, I have to make a disclaimer that the above is my own opinion and also have to state my guidelines for reviewing books: well, this isn't a book review blog, though I have often reviewed for a variety of sources, including major newspapers. Nope, this is just one mystery reader's personal opinion. From time to time, I'll review books I liked. If I don't mention a book it means I've never read it or didn't like it well enough to recommend. So there you have it--I liked Lethal Lineage.

1 comment:

Charlotte Hinger said...

Judy, thank you for your very, very kind words about Lethal Lineage. It gave me great pleasure to review your fabulous biographical novels of Libbie Custer and Jessie Fremont some years ago. I think that kind of work is the most difficult of all. So it's especially sweet to receive praise from a writer of your caliber. Charlotte Hinger