Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Drop Edge of Yonder by Donis Casey

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Drop Edge of Yonder by Donis Casey. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Drop Edge of Yonder by Donis Casey

The Drop Edge of Yonder by
An Alafair Tucker Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-446-5 (1590584465)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-446-0 (9781590584460)
Publication Date: October 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Who killed Uncle Bill? Alafair Tucker is desperate to find out. One August evening in 1914, a bushwhacker ended a pleasant outing by blowing a hole in Bill McBride, kidnapping and ravaging Bill’s fiancee, and wounding Alafair’s daughter Mary. All Mary knows is that the crime had something to do with the Fourth of July.

Or is there more? The answer seems to be working its way through the fog of Mary’s shock and grief and floating to the surface of her consciousness. Several malicious acts suggest that Bill’s killer is still around and attempting to cover his tracks.

The law is hot on the bushwhacker’s trail. Alafair thinks there is little she can do to help the sheriff, but that will never stop her from trying. She has no qualms about driving Mary to distraction with her persistent snooping and constant hovering. Can Mary remember the crime before the murderer manages to eliminate everyone who could identify him?

Review: The third mystery in the Alafair Tucker series by Donis Casey, The Drop Edge of Yonder, concerns the shooting death of Alafair’s young brother-in-law, Billy, the attempted murder of her daughter, Mary, and disappearance of Billy’s fiancĂ©e. On a beautiful August day in 1914, four young people take a ride down the pike. All of a sudden a shot is fired. Teenager Ruth, another daughter of Alafair, hastily turns her horse around and gallops away for help. More shots are fired but no one knows where they are coming from. Mary sees her Uncle Billy fall from his horse. Then she feels a bullet graze her head just above her ear. She, too, falls from her horse and immediately passes out. When she wakes, she crawls to Billy and finds him dead. When the sheriff and her parents find Mary, she is lying on her back in the grass, saying, “This has something to do with the 4th of July.” Her head wound compromises Mary’s memory and it takes time for the thoughts locked in her brain to surface. Laura, the 4th member of the party, is found a couple of days later by her father. She has been brutally beaten from head to toe, and is virtually comatose. There are no clues or explanations as to why these young people were fired upon. So begins this excellent mystery with Alafair leading the way.

After Billy’s funeral in the family plot, Mary starts a journal so if anything comes to her mind she can write it down and not forget it. The only thing she really believes is that it had something to do with the 4th of July. Alafair doesn’t know how she can help the sheriff, but she is going to try. No one is going to hurt another member of her family if she can help it. She has a way of talking to people so that they are unaware they are being interrogated. She learns from Billy’s friends that he had a couple of arguments with friends, especially on the 4th of July but they did not believe any one would want to see him dead. Alafair decides to take a look in Mary’s journal, only to find that she is just about ready to remember, and maybe identify the killer. When Mary realizes her mother has read her journal, she asks, “Do you expect there’s a part of a person that’s connected right to the truth of things? A part that’s half way between this world and the next – that’s standing on the drop edge of yonder?”

This is such an enjoyable book that the last chapter comes far too quickly. The mystery behind the murder of Billy is indeed a puzzle until the very end. But there are also poignant stories about Alafair’s family. She and her husband have twelve children, aged 2 to 23, and she tells us a story about each one. One of her boys turns 18 and for this family that is the most special birthday. They tell what they wish for their son’s future, but most importantly, he tells them what he wants to accomplish as an adult. The author also tells of their home life and the joys (and problems) of raising twelve youngsters in a small farmhouse. The reader learns about their farm, with horses, cows, chickens, a not so nice rooster, and a cotton field that needs picking every year.

The Drop Edge of Yonder is one of those exceptional books that can be savored now and when read again will retain much of its wonder and joy. It’s one of the best mysteries of the year.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Drop Edge of Yonder and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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