Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Shadow on Cant-Dog Hill by John H. Vibber. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
Dog Ear Publishing (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-60844-108-3 (1608441083)
ISBN-13: 978-1-60844-108-2 (9781608441082)
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $15.95
Review: Shadow on Cant-Dog Hill, John H. Vibber's debut novel, is much more than a mystery (though all the requisite elements are present): it is a tale of love and the power of incredibly close friendships.
Set in a remote village in northeast Vermont (the so-called "Northeast Kingdom"), tragedy strikes a group of friends who call themselves "The Gang". Reilly Bostwich, a high school teacher and divorced single parent of 8-year-old Amy, is arrested for the murder of his ex-wife Klarissa. Just the day before the discovery of her frozen body, found tied to a cant-dog on Reilly's property, someone had tried, but ultimately failed, to abduct Amy. The evidence against Reilly is more than circumstantial: blood stains and the rifle used to kill Klarissa are found in Reilly's basement. There's motive as well: after their divorce, Reilly was given custody of Amy after Klarissa tried, contrary to court orders, to move her to England. The police believe Klarissa returned to Vermont to take her daughter, Reilly found out, and killed her.
But Reilly has the "gang" on his side, in particular, Adele Clayton. Adele, also the single parent of an 8-year-old girl, and Reilly were planning a live together as a family. Her love for Reilly, and belief in his innocence, is what drives her, together with the gang, to prove that despite the overwhelming evidence someone else killed Klarissa.
Shadow on Cant-Dog Hill is truly a remarkable novel. The murder mystery plot is well developed and the setting appropriately descriptive, but what sets the story apart is the relationships between the characters. This is a group of people who are serious about the task they face, realistic in their expectations of achieving it, but committed to seeing it through, all the while acting with devotion and good humor. Shadow on Cant-Dog Hill is highly recommended.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Shadow on Cant-Dog Hill and to John H. Vibber for providing a copy of the book for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
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Synopsis (from the publisher): The story is set in the corner of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom where Canaan village is forty five miles from the nearest stoplight and sometimes equally removed from the law. It is mid-January, 1982. Single parents Adele Clayton and Reilly Bostwick are in love. Nothing prevents them from forming a new family except a murder and a kidnapping.
Two days ago Reilly found a woman shot faceless on a snowy hillside. Yesterday the state medical examiner identified the victim as his ex-wife and police discovered matching blood in his cellar. Today Reilly sits in jail believing that nothing worse could happen to him and his eight-year-old daughter Amy. He’s wrong. The true killers are looking for her. Fortunately their intricate plan didn’t anticipate the talents of young widow Adele Clayton.
These are the dynamics of an intricate and exciting novel with an uplifting outcome: a mystery that stands in contrast to most police procedurals and PI stories. This detective’s motivation isn’t justice or money; it’s love.
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