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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - The Return of the Raven Mocker



Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of The Return of the Raven Mocker, the 9th book in Donis Casey's Alafair Tucker mystery series.  I love Donis' series featuring Alafair, her husband Shaw, and their many children.  And this one, set in 1918, has a flu angle.  Seemed appropriate after my recent bout.  See what you think:




     People die all kinds of ways.  Some die in war, some die of sickness, and some people die because of the hatred of others.  But on the fine soft Sunday morning of September 1, 1918, Alafair Tucker was not thinking of all the ways that people die.  She was thinking that when Monday came, her youngest child, Grace, was going to start the first grade.
     On that day, the congregation of the first Christian Church of Boynton, Oklahoma, prayed for a speedy end to the Great War in Europe.  The new preacher, Mr. Huster, didn't ask that the enemy be annihilated and crushed into dust, as did many of his flock in their private prayers, but that the better angels of human nature would prevail and peace and goodwill be restored between nations.
     Alafair Tucker prayed for an end to hostilities as hard as anyone.  But she didn't hold out much hope that reason would prevail any time soon.  She hadn't seen any evidence of reason in her fellow man for some time now.


Blurb:

World War I is raging in Europe, but as the deadly influenza pandemic of 1918 sweeps like a wildfire through Boynton, Oklahoma, Alafair Tucker is fighting her own war. Her daughter, Alice, and son-in-law, Walter Kelley, have both come down with the flu, and Alafair has moved into town to care for them after quarantining her young children at their sister’s farm. Boynton as a whole isolates itself like an old English plague village, discouraging anyone from coming into town and the residents from traveling outside. A new doctor applies science to treating the stricken, but Alafair applies all she knows about hygiene, nutrition, and old and trusted country remedies. Unable to aid her sons and sons-inlaw fighting overseas, this is danger she can combat.

One autumn afternoon, screams coming from next door alert Alafair that Alice’s neighbor, Nola Thomason, and her son Lewis have suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed. Yet there is something about the way the pair died that causes Alafair to suspect their deaths were due to poison rather than to influenza. The epidemic is so overwhelming that it is many days before the only doctor left in town can confirm Alafair’s suspicions; neither Nola nor Lewis died of the flu. The only witness to their deaths, twelve-year-old Dorothy Thomason, a special friend of Alafair’s daughter, Sophronia, is so traumatized that she is rendered mute. Were Nola and her son murdered, and if so, why?

The usual motives for murder are greed, or jealousy, or hatred. Or could it be, as Alafair fears, that the Raven Mocker, the most dreaded of the Cherokee wizards or witches, the evil spirit who takes to the air in a fiery shape to rob the old, the sick, and the dying of their lives, is hunting victims and bringing misery to the innocent?

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My mystery book group is reading books published by the Poisoned Pen Press for our March meeting.  I decided to catch up on this series in preparation.  I have the previous book to read before this one, All Men Fear Me, which details the beginning of WWI and how the Tucker family members become involved.  Have I said that I love this series?  Donis is a lovely person and these tales are based on her family and their Oklahoma life.  My mother's family was from Oklahoma too, so many of the stories and lore remind me of my great-grandparents and grandparents.

30 comments:

  1. I like that intro enough to read more. Never heard of this one.

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    1. I think this series is not terribly well known, but I love it and have from the first.

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  2. Oh I've been meaning to read this series. That's a good opener -- I was immediately thinking flu.

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    1. It is an excellent series. Gives quite the view of life in early 20th century.

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  3. This is a new to me title and series; I'm intrigued those. I like that first line - 'People die all kinds of ways.'

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    1. Yes, I love Alafair and have so enjoyed every book in this series. And she has more than bit of experience with how people die.

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  4. Oooh, this one sounds intriguing. I like stories about plagues and epidemics -- not sure why! Add in a murder mystery and I can't resist. I'll definitely check this one out.

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    1. Donis lives in your area. I've met her at the Poisoned Pen more than once and then last year at Left Coast Crime. She is very kind and I just love her series.

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  5. just realized that need to include my thoughts too in my post!! will update it..
    the book you have featured and the author as well are new to me ;; the first lines are really interesting..oh my poor TBR :)

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    1. I know. We'll never finish all the book we want to. I worry about that all the time. LOL

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  6. I haven't read this series, but I love the title and the cover!

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    1. It's a good series. Think you'd like it!

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  7. Ah ha. May be a good one for me to look into for March. I love reading about that time period.

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    1. Gayle, I'll bring you the first in the series to the February meeting if you'd like. Or, here's something interesting - a lot of the ongoing series that Poisoned Pen publishes have the 1st book in the series for 99 cents on Kindle. The first book in this series is THE OLD BUZZARD HAD IT COMING. LOL

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  8. Oh, I love a good mystery, and when a murder occurs in a way that almost conceals it, the solving will be even more challenging. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Yes, these are nice mysteries and lots of historical detail included.

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  9. I like that this plot sounds different from anything I've read recently (or possibly ever) — lately so many books seem familiar and while I am forgetful I do check carefully to make sure I haven't read something before. Here's the link to my intro/teaser for today: http://wp.me/p4DMf0-1s6

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    1. I agree that this is a different sort of series with plots that you might not have seen before. The setting is interesting and the time period, though popular now, is different in that it shows farm families in the Midwest.

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  10. You always seem to find the best series to read - ones I've not heard mentioned before. This one does sound like a good one.

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    1. Yes, I am definitely a series lover. I never want to let go of the characters. I think you'd like this series, Margot.

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  11. I'm adding this to my list. I love the blurb and the opening, so I'd keep reading!

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    1. Thanks, Monica! Hope you get to try it!

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  12. I've not heard of this series before Kay but it sounds delightful. I love the tone of the opening and this is one of the periods of history I really enjoy and it has my favourite type of murder; poison in this particular book!

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    1. Yes, I'm excited about reading it. This is an unusual mystery series set in a location that probably isn't very familiar to many. I love series where the setting is so vivid and the time period is supported by lots of culture of the time. And poison. LOL

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  13. This does sound like a good and different series! I have hardly read any books by Poisoned Pen Press. I do feel like I need to read more from indie/smaller publishers. Maybe a goal for this year! Enjoy your book group meeting!

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    1. PPP publishes several really excellent mystery series. I'm really glad they are around.

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  14. This one is completely new to me but sounds fantastic! It sounds really unique in that it's not really a procedural or thriller but isn't a cozy either. I'll definitely have to look for it.

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    1. This is a great series and the titles are so fun. I think you'd like it. Oh, and she includes recipes - forgot to mention that.

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  15. I really like the sound of this book, Kay, an interesting use of historical fact mixed with fiction.
    Miss Cellany.

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    1. Yes, that's part of why it's one of my favorite mystery series. It's really well done.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!