Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Awakening by S. J. Bolton

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Awakening by S. J. Bolton. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Awakening by S. J. Bolton

by
Non-series

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-38114-X (031238114X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38114-1 (9780312381141)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $25.95

Review: A setting in a small English village, deaths by snakebite, bizarre rituals and a fifty-year-old tragedy are all the ingredients in S. J. Bolton’s newest thriller Awakening. Bolton has done it again, her second novel is a must read for mystery fans.

Clare Benning is a local veterinarian in a small English hamlet. She is a recluse by nature due to her scarred face, and she prefers the company of animals to people. Her expertise is called upon when a local man dies of snakebite. The autopsy shows a concentration of venom much higher than would be found from just one snakebite. Was the man murdered? The villagers are complaining of numerous snakes found in their houses. And poisonous snakes not native to England are found in several areas. What or who is causing these snakes to appear? How many more deaths will occur before the killer can be caught? Who is trying to discourage Clare from finding out the truth? Will Clare ever find and accept herself for who she is? Will she learn to trust other humans?

I enjoyed reading Awakening. Clare is a likeable person, one whom the reader can easily empathize with. She believes her flaw is her scar, which prevents her from establishing relationships with other people. However, her real flaw is her self-confidence in her appearance. She is a gutsy, determined veterinarian, investigating tunnels and basements that the faint of heart would shirk from. While not a snake fan, the snakes added a unique element to the mystery. However, if snakes really terrify you, I would not recommend this novel. I did feel that some parts tended to drag on a little. Also, the ending left some unanswered questions about Clare’s relationship with her good-looking male neighbor. Because of this, I would give Awakening a 4 out of 5 stars.

Special thanks to Ruth Miller for contributing her review of Awakening and to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Ruth Miller — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Clara Benning, a veterinary surgeon in charge of a wildlife hospital in a small English village, is young and intelligent, but nearly a recluse. Disfigured by a childhood accident, she generally prefers the company of animals to people. But when a local man dies following a supposed snakebite, Clara’s expertise is needed. She’s chilled to learn that the victim’s postmortem shows a higher concentration of venom than could ever be found in a single snake—and that therefore the killer must be human.

Assisted by a soft-spoken neighbor and an eccentric reptile expert, Clara unravels sinister links to an abandoned house, an ancient ritual, and a fifty-year-old tragedy that has left the survivors secretive. But for someone the truth must remain buried in the past—even if they have to kill to keep it there.

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