Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood by Susan Wittig Albert

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review of by on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood by Susan Wittig AlbertSynopsis
(from the publisher): Perhaps it's the gentle breezes that waft into Sawrey off the lake. Or perhaps it's the town's distance from big-city life. Whatever the reason, Miss Beatrix Potter loves the genuine warmth of her new neighbors. But even the kindest of souls can turn snappish when houseguests overstay their welcome ...

When Beatrix returns to Hill Top Farm from her parents' home in London, she finds the attic overrun with rats. Rosabelle, resident rat and generous hostess, has offered her family a place to stay. But when word gets out, she soon has dozens of rat families on her tiny hands. To get rid of them Beatrix invites some cats over—deeply offending Felicia Frummety, resident cat.

The town vicar shares Beatrix's problem—some pesky visitors have all but refused to leave the vicarage. Even worse, a mysterious, moneyed outsider plans to ruin the pristine shoreline of Lake Windermere by building a sprawl of villas. And trouble has beset three village children, favorites of Beatrix, who are counting on the help of the fairies of Cuckoo Brow Wood. Now, with her signature tact, Beatrix must work with her friends—human and animal—to set
things right ...

Review: "The tale I am about to tell you begins on a bright, clear, April-sweet morning in the Lake District of Sawrey." So begins Susan Wittig Albert's utterly charming and beautifully written Beatrix Potter narrative mystery, The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. This book is the third entry in the author's series, The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter.

Albert displays a wide range of writing talents in The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. She portrays Beatrix's land between the lakes with amazing clarity using expressive descriptions and imaginative details. The story is an extension of the landscape and is an affable mystery with Beatrix Potter as the gentle sleuth. And there are elements of comedy as well: the scene in Dimity Woodcock's kitchen as she is serving "her" sticky buns is quite humorous.

There are several thoughtful additions to the book that make it even more enjoyable. A map and cast of characters act as an introduction to the tale. Historical notes and additional resources on Beatrix Potter serve as postscripts. Finally, a glossary of terms is both helpful and
informative.

The joy that Albert surely expresses in writing this series is abundantly evident in The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. It is highly recommended.

Special thanks to Berkley Prime Crime for providing an ARC of The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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