Monday, March 27, 2017

Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart

ANGEL SISTER by Ann Gabhart and the two books which completed the series are among my all-time favorite Christian fiction.  Gabhart excelled at capturing both time and place of the Depression and the forties, but most of all she created such in-depth characters.  When I learned that she was writing cozy mysteries under the name A.H.Gabhart, I was a bit skeptical, thinking such writing would be a waste of her talent.  Think about it.  Really, aren't the characters in most mysteries sketchy -- sort of cookie cutter or paper doll thin?  Maybe the author spends time developing the main characters who will reappear in future novels, but even then, we are usually only given a bit of their story per book.  Recently, I've read a few mysteries in which the antagonist/murderer isn't even in the book until the end when they conveniently are introduced to wrap up the story.  With all that in mind, I wanted to read one of A.H. Gabhart's mysteries, but I was also prepared to be disappointed.

I am happy to say that there was no disappointment.  Gabhart continues to pen genuine small-town  characters that readers will love.  In MURDER IS NO ACCIDENT, I quickly bonded with 15 year old Maggie Greene who has been secretly hiding out in the tower room of the empty Victorian Chandler house.  She relishes not only the view, but also the quiet away from the stress of her troubled family.  As the book opens, Maggie is again there, working on one of the stories she loves writing; when she hears realtor Geraldine Harper enter, Maggie keeps extra quiet, not wanting to be discovered.  Within minutes, Maggie will hear a second person enter, argue with Geraldine, then a thud, followed by someone leaving.  When Maggie finally descends nervously from her tower perch, she discovers Mrs. Harper's body at the bottom of the stairs. 

Deputy Sheriff Mike Keane is called to the scene, following an anonymous call that there is a dead body at the estate (can you guess who made that call?) and while the coroner declares that Geraldine tripped and fell, Mike can not shake an uneasy feeling.  As he considers other possibilities, we are treated to learning more about Mike, the person.  We see him in action with the church youth group on a fishing trip, we see his interaction with the troubled teenager he has taken under his wing. and we watch as he struggles with his long-suffering love for Alex, the girl who left their small town for a big city law career.  Adding more layers to the story are Reece, the town's lawyer and Alex's uncle; Michael's Aunt Lindy (a school teacher); Miss Fonda, heir to the Chandler house, now a victim of Alzheimer's; and not least, Maggie's father who has finally decided to do something about his
alcohol addiction.  Oh, and I can't leave out the new shop keepers in town, one of whom seems to be just too interested in a death that happened in the Chandler house decades earlier. 

If you've never read any of Gabhart's writing, treat yourself and find one of her books.  I like that her books can span generations.  I would recommend MURDER IS NO ACCIDENT to young adolescents and young adults who like mysteries, and I could just as confidently recommend the title to my older reading friends.  Likewise, I believe her historical fiction novels would appeal to many ages.  I was supplied a copy of MURDER IS NO ACCIDENT by Revel Reads.  I was not compelled to write a review and all opinions are mine.

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