In the dedication of Hell With the Lid Blown Off, Donis Casey's 7th Alafair Tucker mystery:
"Nothing brings a family closer than spending an evening huddled together under a mattress in the bathtub, waiting for the storm to blow over."
Now, if you are from Oklahoma, Texas, or really any other state in the Midwest, you are likely familiar with summer storms, big, big storms. And wind and dark clouds and the way that things can kind of go greenish and silent. That is the time to head for the storm cellar or the innermost room of your house or the bathtub. With the mattress. And I am not kidding. Been there, done that. Tornadoes are serious business and that is what occurs in Hell With the Lid Blown Off. Another couple of quotes and then I'll talk about the book itself:
"Do you see that big black cloud coming up in the southwest?" She peered around the corner of the porch and caught her breath. The advancing wall of thunderstorm loomed huge and black to the southwest. Lightning strobed within the cloud with such frequency that it hurt her eyes. "That's an ugly storm coming, all right!"
"the strong wind blowing in from the south shifted to the east. The rain and hail that had been drumming down stopped suddenly and an unnatural calm descended, a moment of dead silence before the end of the world."
Donis Casey has written this book a little differently than others in the series. Obviously, there is a big storm coming and a devastating tornado. She has the 'before', the 'during', and the 'after'. And she shifts the focus and point of view to many different characters. Some of them are people we like and some are not. This author also has written several of her books letting us get to know one or other of the Tucker children in a more comprehensive way. This book is Ruth's book.
The storm and it's aftermath make up a big part of the tale, but one of the deaths that initially was attributed to the storm may not be storm-related. Jubal Belton was a truly vile man, a man who liked to discover secrets and poke at people with them. He has harassed Ruth Tucker and told her that she could either share her favors with him or he'd tell people that she did so anyway. He's recently become a blackmailer and is abusive to his mother and other family members. No one liked Jubal Belton and the fact that he is dead seems fortuitous. Maybe too much so. Sheriff Scott Tucker and his deputy, Trenton Calder, who has his eye on Ruth, need to try to discover how Jubal left this life.
There's lots of action here - injuries in the storm, new babies being born, World War I looms on the horizon, and now there is a murder to solve. If you like a down home family mystery, you'll love Hell With the Lid Blown Off. I highly recommend it.