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Publisher's Summary

After a construction worker unearths a human skull on the campus of the University of Mississippi dating to the 1960s, an older woman’s desperate attempt to erase history counts down the five manners of death. 

Dr. Diana Bratton is a surgeon surrounded by bodies after the discovery of her Aunt Phoebe’s 50-year-old note detailing the manners of death. Suicide, accident, natural cause, and one death classified undetermined are soon crossed off this list - leaving Diana to believe that only murder remains. When Diana spots photographs in a 1966 university yearbook, Phoebe is linked not only to that death, but to the recent deaths of two local men. Diana is torn between pursuing Phoebe’s innocence and accepting the police theory that her aunt is involved in the murder of several men she knew in college. 

In The 5 Manners of Death, Dr. Diana Bratton steals precious time from her young daughter, her surgical practice, and her hopes for renewed romance to clear Aunt Phoebe’s name of multiple murder and uncover the significance of the list. Even as Diana searches Phoebe’s home basement for evidence, she works to trump the police and outrun the conspiracy between her ex-husband and Phoebe’s long-time lover - her quest to expose the truth overshadowed by a need to rebury the past. Even though she realizes there is a chance to save her shrinking family, Diana understands that of the five ways to die, murder is her family secret.

©2017 Darden North (P)2018 Darden North

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  • Brian
  • Niagara Falls, NY
  • 12-12-18

5 Manners of Death Hooked Me

The 5 Manners of Death tells a story of Dr. Diana Bratton and her frenzied search to find out who or what is causing people around her to drop like flies.  At first, they aren't closely connected, just friends of friends, but she's convinced there might be more to the story.  She connects with her buddy and, of course, he's also the Chief of Police (it was a little too "good to be true" but I'll let that be for now).

Bratton as a character was excellent though. She was likable and you found yourself rooting for her to solve the mystery as the days and pages passed by. There was a part of the book where, I won't say I was worried, but I was definitely anxious to figure out what was happening.  If not for me, but for Bratton to finally be rid of the mystery and the intrigue.

North writes a fast-paced procedural-like mystery set in the modern South that jumps back and forth from 1965 to the present.  The back and forth was needed and really helped set both the pace and the intrigue for the rest of the story.

I particularly liked the overall arc of the story.  I kept guessing and guess and I was pleased that after my third or fourth, "no I'm sure of it now" thoughts - I happened to get it right.  I promise it didn't take away from the story in the least.

Throw in the narration by the extremely talented (and nice guy) Steven Jay Cohen, you have a book that lept off the pages and into your ears.  He was able to give life to North's already exciting words and really added that next level to this book.

I liked it and I think you will too. I can't think of any other books to compare it to, but it was a good one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Terrific Listen to a Memorable Mystery

Boy, does Darden North have a way with the scene, whether in a drawing room, classroom, or operating room. Since the bodies keep dropping around our heroine, the surgeon Diana, in The 5 Manners of Death, those scenes are physically and psychologically memorable. What a lively and satisfying listen.
This foray is my first with an audio book. With a breathless intensity that captures the novel’s Southern flavor, narrator Steven Jay Boyd does justice to the fine writing, deftly capturing the eloquence, the snappy dialogue, and the building suspense.
As the title suggests, the victims are delivered in many forms of termination. All are punctuated by those human little dramas intermingled of stress, suspicion, and blame that make the characters believable and engaging. North can write – even scenes like the one in the lobby of a clinic crackle with humor and poignancy. While major characters like Phoebe can be potent fusions of vitality, ego, and hostility, the minor characters give The 5 Manners of Death a narrative richness rare in most mysteries, whether it be the teenage Kelsey’s sardonic distance or Mrs. Drusilla Minton’s hilarious eccentricities.
North deftly shifts the plot in and out of time and place, hurtling from present in Jackson, Mississippi to 1965 at the university campus in Oxford, then bounding back to present, then to a few days prior, back to present, all seamlessly rendered. These movements in time serve to develop multiple layers of plot and allow for many ominous and ironic conversations.
The 5 Manners of Death is a terrific mystery, and indeed, do the revelations keep coming right up to the very last page. North writes with such a keen eye and with such lucidity that the reader is rewarded with great pleasure as the lurid secrets unfold. Listening to this terrific yarn was a tremendous pleasure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful