Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Ballad of Frankie Silver - Sharyn McCrumb

“I want to show you a grave.” The sheriff said. There were three markers, smooth stubs of granite, showing the place where Charlie Silver lay. But, which marker was right? “All three. . .” the sheriff told Spencer Arrowood. Charlie Silver had been hacked into so many pieces that they had to bury whatever they found, and then bury some more. Charlie’s eighteen year old wife, Frankie, was accused to the gruesome crime. The year was 1832, the crime committed in the dead of winter. Did young, pretty, Frankie, mother to Baby Nancy, really commit this crime? According the courts of law she did; and was the first woman hanged in the State of North Carolina. Spencer Arrowood, over 100 years later and wounded in the line of duty, set out to find the truth. Was Frankie guilty? What was she trying to tell them when she had the noose around her neck and her father hushed her? He also wanted to know the truth about Fate Harkryder, another youth accused of being the Appalachian Trail murderer. Spencer, at that time a deputy, had arrested him twenty years ago and was a witness at the trial. Now – they were sending him to electric chair and Spencer wasn’t so sure that Fate was guilty, just like he wasn’t so sure of Frankie’s guilt. What did Fate know about the awful day when two young hikers were brutally murdered? He, like Frankie, was about to go to his death with the answer sealed on his lips. ‘The Ballad of Frankie Silver’ is a fascinating book about the law and lawyers. It’s a history lesson that keeps repeating itself.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Death Wears A Beauty Mask - Mary Higgins Clark

Death Wears a Beauty Mask is a novella never before published by the Queen of Suspense. In 1974, Clark, was inspired to write a story about the dark side of the New York City fashion world. It’s a tale about two sisters who look alike-and another woman who is made up to look like the sisters. Someone is found murdered in one sister’s apartment. Who was it? Was it really her sister – or someone else? What deep secret was being covered up in the newest fashion craze? The novella is a suspenseful thriller but there’s more, much more; nine other stories written by Clark in her early career. The first is, Stowaway, When the Bough Breaks, Voices in the Coalbin, The Cape Cod Masquerade, Definitely, a Crime of Passion, The Man Next Door, Haven’t We Met Before?, The Funniest Thing Has Been Happening Lately and the Tell-Tale Purr. This is an interesting book showcasing Clark’s many talents as a story-teller. Stowaway is Clark’s first published short story (1956). If you’re a fan of Mary Higgins Clark you won’t want to miss reading this one, and even if you have never read her before you’ll find this a good collection of suspenseful tales. Some, admittedly, better than others.