Edith Maxwell launches a new historical mystery series with an outstanding, character-driven book. Set in 1888, in the author's hometown of Amesbury, Massachusetts, it's a wonderful introduction to a lifestyle, religion, and profession most of us are unfamiliar with. Delivering the Truth introduces Rose Carroll, a Quaker midwife. Who better to know the family secrets that the police are not privy to than a midwife?
At twenty-six, Rose has a reputation as the best midwife in town. She tends to women at all levels of society, and, when she has a difficult delivery, she calls on Doctor David Dodge for assistance. She and David have just started seeing each other, but the couple will have to deal with class and religious differences. But, first, Rose will have to deal with murder.
From birth scenes to family scenes, the reader gets to know Rose and Amesbury. Rose moved in with her brother-in-law's family after her sister's death, and she accompanies her oldest niece, Faith, to the Parry Carriage Factory where Faith hopes to get a glimpse of one of the workers, Zeb, at shift change. Faith herself is a mill girl, working ten hours a day. They miss seeing him, but, fortunately, he's not at the factory that night when fire destroys it, and the lives of some of the men inside. The fire spread, destroying other buildings, and threatening homes. And, the news only gets worse when rumors spread that it was arson. When police detective Kevin Donovan asks Rose to keep her eyes and ears open, he's asking what she's heard about the fire that destroyed the Carriage Hill factories. He doesn't want her asking questions, though, when a young man is killed, a young man well known in town.
Rose Carroll is the perfect sleuth, a woman who has dealt with life and death, a woman supported by her faith and her faith community. She admits, though, that she has a hard time waiting for guidance. Patience is not one of her virtues. However, she has friends, including the poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier, who are part of the Friends meeting, people she trusts who will listen.
Maxwell skillfully introduces readers to the setting, Amesbury, and the mills and workers. Delivering the Truth is an atmospheric, character-driven mystery. Rose Carroll is a believable, reflective sleuth, a strong engaging character. Maxwell delves into the life of a Quaker midwife, the homes she's welcomed into, and the homes where she is not so welcome. The author successfully blends mystery and history in a fascinating complex story of lies and family and society. Best of all, she introduces readers to Rose Carroll, a thoughtful woman determined to find justice.
Edith Maxwell's website is www.edithmaxwell.com
Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell. Midnight Ink. 2016. ISBN 9780738747521 (paperback), 312p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.