Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies by Kathleen Hills

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies by Kathleen Hills. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies by Kathleen HillsBuy from Amazon.com
The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies by
A John McIntire Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-476-7 (1590584767)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-476-7 (9781590584767)
Publication Date: December 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): On a stifling mid-summer day in 1951, eleven-year-old Claire Hofer descends from her perch in a pine tree and sets out to take lunch to her father, who's raking hay. As she nears the field, she hears no rumbling tractor and sees only an unfriendly-looking stranger scuffling through the stubble toward her. She turns and runs, but there is no escaping the troubles to come. The man is Township Constable John McIntire, and Claire's father is dead.

McIntire finds the crime baffling. Reuben Hofer had only lived in the old St. Adele Schoolhouse since early May; hardly long enough to make enemies. His family had little contact with anyone in the community save the Catholic priest and Doctor Mark Guibard, who'd been attending Hofer's chronically ill, morbidly obese wife. But Hofer was not exactly the newcomer McIntire had believed. During the war, he'd been incarcerated only a few miles away in a CPS camp---a camp for the rebellious conscientious objectors that the church-run institutions couldn't handle. The spotlight of a murder investigation causes greater misery for already devastated by misfortune and poverty. And McIntire confronts a fumbling nemesis in the bewildered and frightened, but determined, Claire.

Review: The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies is the fourth mystery in this series by Kathleen Hills, featuring Township Constable John McIntire. The series is set in the early 1950s.

Reuben Hofer didn't have a friend in the world. Though new to the community, he was disliked to the point of being hated by everyone who knew him, including his own family. When he was found dead, shot in the back while on a tractor in his fields, no one mourned his death. McIntire and local sheriff Pete Koski begin an investigation into the man's life and find he's not the newcomer they originally thought. During the war, Hofer had been confined as a rebellious conscientious objector in a nearby facility. On the rare occasions when men were allowed to leave, they frequented a local bar and poker room. Those who remembered him, including a former camp guard and saloon owner, recalled he couldn't hold his liquor but was very adroit at playing poker, but ill-tempered and unlikeable. McIntire and Kosky have a difficult time sorting out fact from fiction in determining who wanted to kill Hofer, and why.

Though the plot of The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies in intriguing and has its moments, particularly when it incorporates sometimes obscure historical facts into the story, it pales in comparison to the book's rich character development and setting. As in previous books in the series, McIntire is an exceptionally well drawn, complex character that fits perfectly into his remote, mid-20th century environment. But in this novel, the character of Claire, the dead man's daughter, stands apart from the rest. She's really quite special, with deep emotions and a story unto herself.

Readers who live in, or are familiar with, Michigan's Upper Peninsula will take special delight in reading The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies. Everyone else will simply take pleasure in a remarkably well written book.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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