by Bernie McGill
The Butterfly Cabinet is set in Ireland, telling a long kept secret from the castle back in 1893. Maddie McGlade, now in her nineties, the year 1968, begins the story of her life and the things she witnessed as a servant under Harriet Ormond. Harriet also tells her end of the story through her prison diaries.
Harriet never put up with any nonsense from her children. They had to learn a lesson, if she didn’t punish them they would never become the obedient children they should. Maddie, and other servants in the house, thought Harriet went too far in her discipline. The sevants risked Harriet’s ire by sneaking food and drink to the children during long durations of learning how to behave. When the youngest child is found dead, Harriet is accused and thrown in prison. It seems that Maddie has a guilty conscious and must tell her story to someone before she dies. This book was inspired by a true story of the death of the daughter of an aristocratic Irish family at the end of the nineteenth century.
>Graveminder is the first adult novel published by Melissa Marr (author of the popular young adult Wicked Lovely series). Claysville is a world unto itself. Its residents are born there, and they must die there, though they are ignorant of what is truly going on around them and why they feel an irresistible pull to the place where they were born. In Claysville, if a body isn’t minded after death, the dead don’t stay where they’re put.
Rebekkah must unexpectedly return to Claysville upon the death of her grandmother, Maylene. When she arrives, she finds out Maylene was murdered in her home and that attacks continue to occur. Her old flame, Byron, a man who still loves her, must convince her she has to take up her grandmother’s place and as Graveminder to mind the dead and lay the Hungry Dead who have already woken to rest. He must also convince her she belongs to him and to the dead. Together they act as enforcers of a three hundred year old contract between the enigmatic ruler of the world of the dead and the town of Claysville.
This atmospheric gothic mystery pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the end.
>The mood of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is set in the first paragraph which says, “My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the deathcup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.”
Mary Katherine Blackwood, also known as Merricat, tells this story in her superstitious twisted sort of way. She lives in the secluded Blackwood Mansion with her older sister Constance, her senile Uncle Julian, who is dying, and her cat Jonas. Merricat goes to town on Tuesday and Friday for food and library books. The village taunts her, making her trips to town very unpleasant, but, “Constance never went past her own garden and Uncle Julian could not. Therefore it was not pride that took me into the village twice a week, or even stubbornness, but only the simple need for books and food.” When Cousin Charles (who thinks there is treasure to be had) comes to visit, Merricat hates him and is determined he will leave. She pulls pranks that ultimately cause his departure but also changes their own lives.
1. (law) A clause in an insurance policy in which the insurance company agrees to pay out double the normal coverage in certain specified circumstances, most often in case of accidental death. Courtesy of en.wiktionary.org
A classic crime novel, Double Indemnity
was written by James M. Cain in an eight-part serial for Liberty magazine in 1936. The plot came from a real murder that made headlines while Cain was a journalist in New York. The story is of an insurance agent who goes to the home of a client in hopes of renewing an automobile policy. He meets the beautiful wife of the client and a flirtation turns into a romance which results in a plot to do away with the husband after taking out a policy on his life. The agent who has seen enough fishy claims to know what works and what doesn’t believes he has the perfect murder scheme. The wife has her own agenda which involves much scheming on her part. I enjoyed this detailed, fast moving classic. It is a well-crafted mystery with twists and turns on every page and a surprise ending, of course.