Sunday, May 14, 2017

Called to Justice by Edith Maxwell

Edith Maxwell's historical mysteries, like Donis Casey's, evoke a certain time and place. The history brings the setting and period to life, while the mystery elements involve the character of the sleuth. Maxwell's Called to Justice is the second book featuring Quaker midwife Rose Carroll in Amesbury, Massachusetts in 1888. It's not long after the Civil War, and Amesbury is a flourishing mill town, both important elements to this story.

On Independence Day, Rose hopes to enjoy the parade and the evening fireworks. Instead, it's a troubling day, and a worse evening. Hannah Breed, a young Quaker woman who works at Hamilton Mill with Rose's niece, meets with Rose during the parade because she needs help. She's pregnant and won't tell Rose who the father is, but she broke off with the nice young man who was interested in her. Hannah is upset, and Rose hopes to help her. But, by that night, Hannah is dead, shot by someone in the crowd during the fireworks. Accident or murder?

Rose is appalled at the death, but she's angry when a fellow Quaker is accused of killing Hannah. A witness claims to have seen Akwasi Ayensu, a colored Quaker, with a gun. Rose doesn't believe her friend, a successful furniture maker who had been mentored by John Whittier Greenleaf, is the killer. Instead she suspects prejudice when a man in the crowd calls Akwasi "boy" and says the Negro in the crowd should be thrown in jail.

Rose Carroll's life couldn't be more complicated at the moment. She's dealing with her own personal relationship and resulting issues while juggling her work as a much-in-demand midwife. Now, there seems to be trouble all around her, from stories of theft to threats, prejudice, and Hannah's secrets and murder. Rose feels unsettled, and, at times, even feels lost and in despair.

But, it's those feelings that make Edith Maxwell's Quaker Midwife mysteries special. Rose Carroll isn't superwoman. She's an ordinary woman with a gift of seeing into someone's heart. Her faith and strong zeal for justice, along with her feelings of loneliness and uncertainly, make her realistic and an appealing amateur sleuth. She's a caring woman who knows the community and all the classes of society because of her profession as a midwife.

Rose Carroll refers to her calling as a midwife, and says that includes the role of counselor. In Called to Justice, it also means she's called to find justice for a victim, justice in the case of a man arrested for a crime he didn't commit.  It's a satisfying historical mystery from Edith Maxwell who successfully calls on her amateur sleuth to tell a story of the late 19th century, its working class, its women, and a prejudice that is still with us.

Edith Maxwell's website is

Called to Justice by Edith Maxwell. Midnight Ink. 2017. ISBN 9780738750323 (paperback), 312p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Gram said...

I always enjoy stories by Edith Maxwell.

Lesa said...

I love her characters, Gram.

Carol N Wong said...

I love historical mysteries!