One of the real joys of working in a library is that there is always something new to encounter, to taste, and discover. Since Lesa was going to be out of town, it fell to lucky me to stand in as guest host to her Authors at the Teague session with Vicki Delany and Donis Casey this past Thursday.
Casey, like her heroine Alafair Tucker, was born and bred in Oklahoma—one of a large family in a small farming town. If you do not already know, Alafair is the mother of 10 living children. In Hornswoggled, my first encounter with Alafair, daughter Alice is courted by a widowed man whose wife left this earth under very mysterious circumstances. Alafair proves it pays to keep her eyes upon her daughter’s suitors.
Ms. Casey’s newest in this series, The Wrong Hill to Die On, finds Alafair, husband Shaw, and a younger daughter off to Arizona. After a long spell of damp rainy weather, daughter Blanche needs the dry heat of the southwest to heal her weakened lungs. Unfortunately, the trip isn’t exactly a smooth one; it takes 10 days to get to Arizona due to the havoc the rain has made of the rail lines. Though Blanche’s health improves quickly, the stress doesn’t abate once a body is discovered in a nearby Tempe canal.
Casey’s mysteries are all about the historical settings and Alafair’s surrounding family life. I defy you not to feel like you want to join in on the family line to sway baby Grace on your hip, or to help with dinner dishes. If this is what Casey’s Oklahoma family life was like, we can only hope to be adopted into her family.
Ms. Delany, a former systems analyst, hails from suburban Toronto. Now living in Prince Edward County, she is the creator of the Constable Molly Smith mystery series. Molly is a young woman who has to learn the ropes of criminal investigation when working in a small town British Columbia police department. The series has been optioned for Canadian television production.
More Than Sorrow is a departure from Molly Smith’s adventures. Set in rural Ontario, it is the gothic tale of Hannah Manning, internationally-renowned war correspondent. Victim of an IED, Hannah has suffered a traumatic brain injury while in Afghanistan. Doctors feel she can better recuperate if sent to the bucolic 200 year old farmstead belonging to her sister and husband.
She finds some measure of peace with her sister, niece and nearby Hila Popalzai, a refugee from Afghanistan suffering from similar loss and trauma. This peace is short-lived though, when the farm becomes anything other than the calm oasis it should be. Family tensions, financial difficulties and Hila’s disappearance add to Hannah’s crushing headaches.
In an effort to stay out of the way and help the family, she begins to sort out the historical documents in the attic. As part of a community established for loyalists forced to flee from their stateside homes during the Revolutionary War, Hannah discovers papers belonging to the home’s original residents, Nathaniel and Marie Macgregor, their children and cousin Maggie. Hannah also begins to see and feel the presence of a woman whenever she enters the farm’s root cellar. Delany masterfully ties the dual stories together to a satisfying conclusion.
I can tell you that Donis Casey and Vicki Delany were two authors worthy of discovery on the shelves of the Velma Teague Library. Hope you will find them at your local library.
Donis Casey's website is www.doniscasey.com
The Wrong Hill to Die On by Donis Casey. Poisoned Pen Press. 2012. ISBN 9781464200441 (hardcover), 328p. (Also available in trade paperback, ISBN 9781464200465)
Vicki Delany's website is www.vickidelany.com
More Than Sorrow by Vicki Delany. Poisoned Pen Press. 2012. ISBN 9781590589854 (hardcover), 312p.