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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Daughter of the Stars

Daughter Of The Stars - Phyllis A. Whitney

Window on the Square is the one book the women in my family have in common.  It's a gothic mystery/romance and don't ask me what it is about this book, but we all have a copy and we're all territorial over them.  My sister has already claimed my mother's hardcover copy when that time comes.  Fortunately, I'd upgraded to a hardcover a few years ago so we won't actually end up in court over who gets mom's copy.  ;)


But I had never read any other Phyllis A. Whitney before now.  As much as I love WotS, I don't consider myself a fan of gothic reads; probably because I struggle with the romance genre?  Anyway, when I was on vacation and cutting a swath through the Friends of the Library book sales one of the dear volunteers gave me this book for free ("If you're buying this here stack of hardcovers, I'm not going to charge you for that poor paperback.").


My first impressions:  Man, they just don't write them the way they used to.  With an economy of words, Ms. Whitney transports you exactly where she wants you.  A strong sense of time, place, atmosphere from the first page - all without rambling expository narrative.  Also - NO grammatical, spelling or editorial errors.  None. Zip. 


Story wise... meh.  It was good, to be fair, but it didn't measure up to the unreasonably high expectations developed by my love of WotS.  There's not much here that qualifies it as gothic, and very little romance.  This was a straight forward mystery, spanning generations and centered on Harper's Ferry, West Virginia and people who have such a strong vise-like grip on their own history, the Civil War might as well of happened last week.


The writing was excellent, as I've said.  The murder mystery was extremely well-plotted, although I sort of saw the ending coming.  The characters were almost all hard to like or not like; the author gave the reader reasons to doubt both the goodness and the evilness of just about every character, except the MC and a handful of others.  The romance was almost non-existent.  It's a central theme, but the development of it's hardly touched upon at all with no build-up of romantic tension.


I enjoyed this book, and while I'm not going to run out and buy up her backlist, I'm going to keep an eye out for her books.  Her writing is first class - I just have to find the stories she's written that hook me the way that first, treasured book did.