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book 95-96

The Companion by Ann Granger

This is the first in the Lizzie Martin series (I’ve read others). In this Lizzie is fresh to London to come to live with her godfather’s second wife. This is the 1800’s and her dad has died. Lizzie, being nearly 30 and unmarried with little money left to her, has no options but to find employment. Her godfather has passed on as well but Lizzie has been hired as ‘Aunt Parry’s’ companion.

On her first day in town her carriage passes the police taking a young lady’s body out from the ruins of slum housing being knocked down to make way for a new railroad terminus. As a doctor’s daughter, she’s not one to shrike from such things. At her new home, she immediately feels rather unwanted. Aunt Parry and her friends Mrs. Belling and Dr Tibbet, a school master and all around women¬hating religious prig, make sure Lizzie knows she’s a charity case. Aunt Parry’s nephew, Frank, and Mrs. Belling’s son are more welcoming.

Quickly it becomes clear that the dead woman was Madeleine Hexham, Lizzie’s predecessor as Parry’s companion. She supposedly ran off to get married making her low in the eyes of Parry and her friends. The case is being investigated by Ben Ross, a young police detective who was saved from the coal mines by Lizzie father. He is very pleased to see Lizzie again and very worried that she might be in danger.

There aren’t many red herrings in this and I was a little surprised by the villain but mostly because the clues were laid better for one of the herrings. The story is almost more about Ben and Lizzie than the mystery itself but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Weird Ohio by James Willis, Andrew Henderson and Loren Coleman

I got this signed by the authors at the Mothman festival last year. It’s one of the Weird American series. It’s a ‘travel guide’ to the weird and wacky. It’s broken into Local Legends, Ancient Mysteries, Fabled People and Places, Unexplained Phenomena, Bizarre Beasts, Local Heroes and villains, personalized properties, roadside distractions, roads less traveled, haunted places and ghostly tales, cemetery safari and abandoned in Ohio.

So for the most of the stories are of the supernatural nature. Some are very well written and researched. Others are so thin that including them might have been a mistake. There are several personalized stories from write-in locals. Some have great pictures. The one disappointing thing is that some of the locations would be very hard to find if you wanted to see them for yourself since often there’s not enough to go on to find directions so ‘travel guide’ might be an ambitious title. However, it’s a fun read and it was neat to see the weird crap in OH. The one thing that seemed like it was stretching it was some of the abandoned places, there’s a whole section of abandoned drive-ins with no weirdness attached. What is inherently weird about old drive-ins? It probably only has interest to Ohioans or true lovers of the weird.
Tags: historical fiction, mystery, non-fiction
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