SURPRISE! This is actually the conclusion of the Crittendon County, Kentucky series! If you felt a little unfulfilled as I did with Number 3 "Found," do get this one!
It is Christmas, time for sharing love, and hope.
In it, Gray takes us through the grieving process of several affected characters in the shocking aftermath of Perry Borntrager's murder, including and especially, the son and family of the "murderer" whose anger was understandably human, but whose strategy
for self survival was so contrary to the Amish values of honesty, admitting wrong, personal responsibility, family solidarity, I felt a bit sick, and very sympathetic toward the son's mourning (mourning includes anger and grief) steps. This was incomplete for me, as the "murderer" was willing to have the blame fall on his son, even if it meant an untrue
conviction, subsequent jail sentence, and throwing over of a father's hopes for his family!
It didn't seem consistent within the character, and he was given no voice to express what went on inside. This part of the story, how the "murderer" was dealt with was given only brief brushing, and for me, did not well support the later happy ending. Maybe there's a lesson there, that when we cannot forgive ourselves, the love and forgiveness of those whom we've harmed helps us to that state.
The bulk of the story, which gives such weight to the title "Peace" is dedicated to (darling!) Beth, who is helping out her friend, Frannie while away for Christmas with new husband, former Chicago investigator and friend to Mose, local sheriff, Luke. Even though Beth says she can't cook or clean very well, she seems to grace the Yellow Bird Inn with a warm, upright and attractive presence, that makes her look very much at home. Truly, I am so taken with her character, I wish I could purchase lessons!
Chris Ellis, undercover DEA agent, who showed up previously when Beth was helping out Frannie, has been badly injured after his cover was blown. Knowing he has to seek a hidden refuge, his instincts, not his reason, seem to guide him to Crittenden County, and specifically the Yellow Bird Inn.
The first time they met and connected (with a lot of electricity), Chris had to say a final
goodbye, thinking he would either die young, or become someone he didn't like, and lose his love of life. It was sad, but understandable. Now he finds himself homing in on a place where he felt safe, supported, and maybe even loved, though that isn't something to admit just yet.
He is bleeding from at least two wounds when he shows up on the doorstep, and cannot go to a hospital or get outside help.
This enforced hiatus creates a potentially perfect situation for Beth and Chris to learn what is really important about each other, and this does happen, jerkily, imperfectly, but guided by the best instincts and upheld values each of them possesses. I admire Beth's integrity very much; she is simple in her honesty. Somehow she negotiates her curiosity , needs and sorrows in a way that constantly has the needs of others also in mind.
One of the most endearing and surprising actions was her desire to give Chris a Christmas present, which she does with her delightful simple honesty, even if it's a bit awkward!
Without wanting to reveal this keen pleasure, I will say it has wonderful consequences, helping Chris to overcome his fomenting but hidden despair over the conflict between wanting to do good in the world at the cost of his own sensibilities, and self esteem, and
reconnect with what and who is really important to him!
The ending is an excellent wrap-up, just perfect for Christmas. Although I love mysteries,
this series taught me a lot about the true values in relationships. There was one quote from a character that was particularly meaningful: "We are not here to see through our friends and others, but to see others and our friends through."
Ramses Emerson, now a VERY precocious 4 years of age, is invited, along with a wholesome footman of the house to act as attendant, to accompany his parents, Amelia Peabody Emerson, and Radcliffe Emerson, to a new and exciting dig in Egypt, which, due
to Emerson's (the father's appellation) carelessness, is not an excavation of a pyramid, but
of a mere gravesite, full of scattered shards and a few bones. Quite disappointed is Peabody. Ramses, however, is exquisitely curious, and manages to keep himself marvelously entertained and occupied, whether it is filling in his classical Arabic with colloquialisms learned from the local workman, or discovering bits of Coptic papyri taken,
with permission, from the other archeologist, a Frenchman, who has the rights to a nearby
pyramidal excavation. He, Ramses, actually discovers the lost gospel of Thomas Didymus, which we know as one of the excised books of the Bible, but which Peabody
actually discounts and criticizes! This brings up my own slight disappointment with this
installment: I found her interaction and harshness with her son too often chilling. The
characters of the father and mother, Emerson and Peabody, are revealed clearly in this
story: Emerson is fair, but appreciative at the right times, and affectionate; Peabody, capable of compassion accompanied by correct action (see the first story), seems to be
lacking in graciousness and gratitude for the intelligence and good will exemplified by her
son, and sometimes is quite short - I feel unnecessarily so- and even disrespectful. Others may find this negligible,but, as the mother and father, distracted by lack of professional fulfillment, become interested and entangled in uncovered an illegal antiquities
theft and deportation criminal ring, end up being rescued by their son when the criminals
have dispatched them by tossing them into a hidden burial chamber awash with slimy mud
and scummy water 13 feet below the only opening, I felt her lack of simple manners
Ms. Rosenblatt's narration is outstanding; the characters, as usual, are numerous and
deliciously different,the humour in evidence ,the danger just right, the courage to overcome admirable, but the story this time left me a little wanting.
I may skip Number 4, which also deals with this criminal ring, and see what Number 5
has to offer.
Firstly, Barbara Rosenblatt must be the most talented narrator of them all! She brings this book to heights of delicious humor and characterization, from an alcoholic slaver mother deluded by grandeurs of purported past lives, to an eager German clerk, to a simpering, Delilah like widow,
an energetic,irrepressible Irish newspaper reporter, and more, not the least of which are Peabody and Emerson, wife and husband Egyptologists and professional excavators!
Elizabeth Peters manages to entwine a good story, inimitable characters, relationship humor, and
an enticing mystery all into one! This is my second book, and won't be my last.
I do recommend reading them in order; this being the second, where they are on hiatus from Egypt, their heart's love, in order to have their son, Ramses, preternaturally intelligent - well,if your daddy read you his field notes and histories of Egypt, your vocabulary might be extraordinary, too!
But, an opportunity arises to continue the work of an unfortunate lord, recently deceased. Emerson is importuned by the man's widow. Shall they? Shan't they? They can't resist, Ramses, now 4, must be left in England in order to have his still baby body protected from potential disease, but off mama and papa go, to continue the work, and be observers to one after another murder, each entertainingly different. which they must solve in addition to plumbing a
once wondrous tomb.
Having eagerly read the canon several times, it is really a delight to relax, get cosy with
my cat and a cup of tea and listen to this excellent dramatized version. The actors, both major and minor are excellent, the sound effects take you on location, you experience firsthand the development of friendship and relationships which will march forth in ensuing stories, and all do justice to such a well thought out, complex story.
It opens with two highly unusual deaths in an out of the way place near London, heavy laden with clues if you know what to look for, which Holmes does, but the two police inspectors, Gregson and Lestrade, do not, quite out of their depth. How Doyle ekes out the following up of the clues, finally weaving in the backstory set in of all places, Utah, the then wild frontier, fraught with miracle,patience, love,greedy jealousy and hate, then revenge, is spellbindingly delicious.
These are very well done dramatizations; I shall continue with them.
The story had a lot of potential; it was deliciously Hallowe'en like, scary, atmospheric, with enticing pace. However, the ending was dissatisfying, with no real conclusion.
If this were first in a series of similar tales, or if the story continued and had a satisfying
terminus, it would have been delicious!
CRT has done brief, or briefer stories on different subjects rather better than this!
If you are a "middler" you may have watched the original TV series with Raymond Burr, as did I. Aesthetically, the blonde Paul Drake and dark Perry Mason, their matching IQs but differing though usually compatible approaches and personalities, balanced by the
smart and efficient, ahead-of-her-time, Della Street was very pleasing.
This radio show has different values, and may mimic those of the original E.S.Gardner
stories, as he wrote in the 30's. CRT has Perry much more aggressive, a high wire walker risk taker,more gruff and general-like, not as smooth and elegant as the TV series. Paul Drake is more assertive, but still willing to help Perry without subservience or compromising his independence, and the Della character seems a little weak to me,
but that may be how Mr. Gardener viewed women then - as servants.
Nevertheless, do not be fooled by the titles, the stories are full blown mysteries, and you
will be entertained to the end. As always CRT has excellent sound effects, excellent small part characters, and a good clip throughout.
They are a good bargain for the price and I will probably listen to more in their series!
First let me mention the excellent, no, outstanding skills of the narrator who not only did gender differences well, but created the characters so distinctly you could see them. For a Californian, it was an introduction into an unknown culture: extreme East Coast, and in another way, a level
of society I ordinarily wouldn't choose.
Liam Mulligan is a tall, cigar smoking, good looking investigative reporter who thinks he's in good shape, with an avid fanship for the Red Sox, quick and frequent sense of humor, bulldog tenacity, loyalty, deep caring sense of family, place, & friendship, who loves enough about his life to carry him through the challenging job of finding out the truth about things and taking the consequences of revealing it. I wish I had him here to help me write this so you'll find it interesting, too.
The story is about a series of residential conflagrations powerful enough to rapidly incinerate
a whole house, including, horribly and sadly, the occupants, by the time the firetrucks arrive. He senses the story,and, knowing the police are either hamstrung, too slow or just poor detectives, does his own investigation, all the way to the end.
Perfectly interwoven is the hilarious harassment by his soon to be divorced wife, the Red Sox game series, a love affair, the fate of friends in the Fire Department, the hard handed and "Dumb and Dumber" police twins, his office mates,the demise of printed journalism, dinner at favorite various joints,the surprise friendship with Mason, son of the latest investor trying to save the newspaper, the corruption in high places, crime in low places, and interactions with numerous others who create a whole, pulsing, living small town, where Mulligan can greet people on the street because he knows them and they've known him since he's been a kid.
It IS a really good story, and is true to its' culture. It was actually an inoculation for me, being something of a goody two shoes, but I just didn't quite like the ending,as I need more happiness, but which really spoke to the courage of the hero, who can take consequences with big enough heart to be sad, but not really give up hope.
Gray's strength is holistic thinking, featuring the solid relationships of characters and how they help one another through the shock of this murder, and the consequences of the victim's actions and behavior when alive, all beautifully knit together.
I especially love the partnership model between the young men and women. It's a real pleasure to see people valuing love, caring, working even very difficult problems out to benefit both, balancing their individual needs against the context of Amish teachings, making up their own minds.
In this final episode, the characters are more fully fleshed out; you get to know and like them even more, even as the realization dawns that Perry Borntrager, the young man who descended into his own hell of drug abuse and selling, was not murdered by his outsider
drug suppliers; it had to have been someone local.
In an unusual intuition, I guessed who it must be, but not the right reason. Many members had been hurt, but they each had been forthright in facing how Perry had injured them, and were coming to terms with it, by reaching out to each other.
Nevertheless, the climax was complicated, very real, and interesting. My disappointment was that the actual crime of the murder was unclear. Was it actually an intentional taking of Perry's life, or a kind of negligence, or a related malefaction?
Because of this confusion the denouement was not as satisfying as it might be. Further, as a minor point, each of the main characters experiences a growth and fulfillment of purpose and partner, except Beth, who was one of my favorite characters, because she
freely admitted her faults (couldn't cook or clean very well), but had outstanding virtues
of loyalty and loving support. You felt it would happen eventually, but it would have been more delicious to have included her.
Perhaps I would have preferred "Missing" and "Search" to have been one book, as there is no way I can stop now, and each book (3) is really not, in my mind, independent, but there is something refreshing about shorter tastes, and, if the first one displeases, one can stop there.In "Search" the contrast and comparison of Englishers and Amish life styles is even more highlighted. What I love about Gray's exposition is the underlying faith in the humanity of people - their values and needs - that supersedes mere outward "obedience" to a particular religion. (This has long been a viewpoint of my own - that if we could have a World Council of every religion to agree on their top 10 VALUES, not precepts or definitions (e.g. seeing each other as human first, then citizens of a particular location; a caring economy; personal responsibility; practicing peaceful, compassionate negotiation first; seeing conflict as opportunity for understanding, rather than call to violence) then we would see how we are all connected and interdependent, rather than alienated from one another, and know how much we all want the same thing.)
This second book has the two detectives, Luke from up north, and his local friend Mose,uncovering more secrets. It is interesting that the Amish characters are more open tothe sunny, healing qualities of simple love, loyalty, help and caring, but all who have secrets have them for very human reasons, not Godly ones; even while knowing lying isnot positive, they withhold out of fear of hurting others. The Englishers seem more willing to live with social lies out of convenience,and put up with the alienating consequences, but when they interact with the Amish, some chemistry happens. A deeper need is met; they are awakened, and touched.
A little more is learned about the murdered son, Perry Borntrager (Ger. water carrier), and how he hurt his friends and family by his sudden choices to get involved with drugs anddrug dealers. He was stealing money regularly from his employer, Mr. Shrager (sp), for example, in order to satisfy the dealers increasing demands, which he was apparently unable to otherwise meet.
Lydia, his former girlfriend, has trusted her heart and chosen an Englisher, Walker, tocourt; they are slowly working out how to balance their love with the challenges of religious practice and livelihood. Frannie, who owns The Yellow Bird B & B, who seemed in the last book rather cool and rather nosy, has come up against herself and her heart's real desires,and separates from her childhood expectations of marrying someone who is a good man,but who is just not tender, sparking, or deeply appreciative.......like Luke, the Englisher detective, who helps her when she has a frightening accident.
We also get to meet her delightful girlfriend, Beth, who, is so honest, caring, and down to earth, I wanted her asa girlfriend myself! Beth cannot cook or clean very well, and doesn't know accounts or how to deal with guests especially well when Frannie has to be hospitalized, but, she eventually figures things out, and actually does pretty well! She is so transparent and loving, I think I loved her!
So, this "ending" has the web pulled slightly tighter on finding Perry's mysterious murderer, who bonked him on the beanie, and put him down a well, eliminating the idea of death bydrug overdose. Luke, the "borrowed" detective, returns renewed, and discovers throughcareful perusal, the hint that makes the murderer clear.
The audio blurb was possibly misleading, putting focus on the surprise of discovering a murdered body by a secondary character, whereas the real story was how all those who knew the victim
were unwilling to reveal aspects of their relationship with him, Perry Borntrager,believing their own culpability, or fear and shame over incidents in their shared relationship.
The opening seemed to me at first a little too dramatic, as several characters so strongly denied any knowledge that might help the detective; but I trusted the author to reveal the truth behind the resistance. She did, slowly, carefully, even lovingly.
Jacob's murdered body was accidentally discovered down a well, precipitating an investigation by
an outsider into a dual cultured town: Amish and Englisher ("outsider" to the Amish). Right there is a delicious inticement into the story: how do a modern people and those dedicated to living according to past values get along? This is one of the lovely aspects to the story: it turns out
that everyone who knew Perry,whether Englisher or Amish, was very human in their fears,
courage and values; their humanity was transcendent.
The discoverer was sister to one of the main characters, a college aged Englisher named Walker, who had worked with and been friends with Perry, and witnessed the descent of his personality,
from responsible, though fun loving, into anger and dissociation then unethical,then criminal behavior. But Walker believed that though he did try to interfere for good, he had failed his friend and possibly caused his early death. This was his shame.
Lydia is lovely, Amish, and had been in a loving commitment with hopes for marriage to Perry, also Amish. His descent into hell was evidenced by his behavior from caring, gentle and responsible, with a delight in surprises, to rude, careless, and eventually sexually aggressive.
This last act broke her heart, and she broke off the relationship, though it cost her a great deal to
come to terms with broken dreams.
Both of the main characters slowly come to terms with the deep hidden reasons for their secrets, through a new,gentle, well matched relationship which helps them both to look toward their own integrity and strengthen it. This is the deep charm of this story: secrets, held through fear, and
not expressed properly destroy part of our psyche. When careingly and bravely released, a new
future can occur.
I liked this story very much, was upheld by its values, and will continue the series.
SPOILER ALERT: You may have guessed by now that the murder was the trigger that created
the growth in consciousness of those who cared for the victim, but is not solved in this episode.
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