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WITCH CRADLE

Witch Cradle

January, 1951, while the country is in the grip of war inKorea, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and Senator Joe McCarthy, the residents of St. Adele, Michigan are more concerned with staying warm and shoveling snow, until a bizarre ice storm brings down a towering pine. Entangled in its roots is evidence that leads Constable John McIntire to the abandoned farmstead of a young couple who had supposedly left the community years before, part of an exodus of Finnish-Americans gone off to build a workers' Utopia in the Soviet republic of Karelia. McIntire's fears are realized when he discovers two bodies, buried sixteen years in an unused cistern.

In his zeal to uncover the truth, McIntire brings the scrutiny--and the suspicion--of a Red-hunting government agent upon his neighbors and himself. It is only the beginning of his mis-calculations. Each step in investigating the deaths seems only to bring more misery to the living. Old wounds are opened, old terrors rekindled, and old wrongs exposed. McIntire himself is not immune. He struggles to solve the two-decades old murders, while a part of the past he hoped to bury forever threatens to destroy his new life.

REVIEWS

PUBLISHERS’ WEEKLY

Constable John McIntire, Sheriff Pete Koski and their neighbors in St. Adele, a small town on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, must deal with the effects of isolation and far-away political events in Hills's absorbing third mystery (after 2004's Hunter's Dance). One January night in 1951, an ice storm has the hardy residents of St. Adele on edge, but it's the discovery of two human skeletons in a cistern on the farm that once belonged to Rose and Teddy Falk that really upsets everyone. The couple were thought to have resettled in Soviet Karelia with other ethnic Finns in 1934, lured by the promise of a worker's paradise. Now it appears they never left. Many of those Finns later returned, disillusioned, to the U.S., and FBI agent Melvin Fratelli fears Communist spies are lurking even in this remote community. As McIntire investigates, complicated family intrigues rise to the surface and lives change irrevocably. Unidentified news squibs before each chapter help place this illuminating tale in the context of the McCarthy era.  Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc
 

   

BOOKLIST

*Starred Review*     Hills' latest John McIntire adventure is dark, dense, and delicious--and musn't be rushed. Although she generates enough suspense to keep readers turning pages, it would be a mistake to turn them too quickly and miss even one word of her taut yet lyrical prose. Set in 1951, amidst the paranoia of McCarthyism, Hill's story revolves around a community of mostly Finnish Americans in Michigan 's Upper Peninsula . McIntire, the steadfast constable of tiny St. Adele, becomes embroiled in a murder investigation when two skeletons are found in the cistern of Falk farm--one is Rose Falk, but the other is not Rose's husband, Teddy. Like many other Finns in 1934, the Falks had been recruited by Communists and were planning to immigrate to Soviet Karelia: Rose never made it, but what happened to Teddy? Did he find Rose with a lover and kill them both? Is he still alive? As he grapples with the cold-case investigation, McIntire is investigated himself--by overzealous FBI agent Melvin Fratelli, the embodiment of the xenophobia running rampant in the early 1950s. Like a determined ice fisherman, McIntire slowly chips away the layers of lies and bitterness, creating possibly fatal cracks in his friendships and marriage. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association

 

 

Witch Cradle

Witch Cradle Watercolor by David Pettigrew

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