Monday, November 11, 2013

Thoreau at Devil's Perch by B B Oak

Dr. Alex Walker is walking in the woods looking for medicinal plants to resupply his office.  When he meets a stranger who melds into the colors of the woods, he's surprised.  He's even more surprised when the man tells him he's found a dead body.  It doesn't get better.  This no accident; someone has killed this young black man.

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is the beginning of a new murder mystery series that features Henry David Thoreau.  I enjoyed reading about this gentle odd man who had his own opinions and his own ways in life.  He's smart, but he's strange and he doesn't fit in well.  It doesn't bother him if he does or not.

When the officials declare the death accidental, both Thoreau and Dr. Walker protest.  It's a small town, the coroner is a downtown business man and they want no trouble.  The murdered man is a Negro; they see an easy way out and take it.

While Thoreau is looking for answers with Alex, even more evil is building in the small community.  This a pot boiler of a tale.  You have those with money and influence, those less fortunate, soldiers from the Civil War, prejudices against Negros and Indians and now you have murder.  Not only does the Negro man die, Captain Peck is murdered also.  He's a despicable man but he had syphilis and was dying so who got angry enough to kill him?

The little side stories made the book more interesting to me.  Alex is in love with Julia, but she's his first cousin and they can't marry.  She leaves to go back to Paris and her father so they aren't led into relationship that can go nowhere.  He finds out his father was not a Watson, and he is going after Julia at the end of the story.

The murderer is not at all who I would have expected.  Thoreau knows the truth but will let it go.  The only innocent murder victim was the black man.  

You'll find yourself looking at right and wrong differently at the end of this read.  Nobody is truly innocent and some men desire to die.  Watch out for those gray areas.

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