Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I began reading this book because Carolyn Wall and I were going to be on a historical mystery panel together at Bouchercon 2011. Though I love American historical mystery, depression era ones are not my usual read. Wall surprised me with vivid characters trapped in a harsh situation in a troubled community.


I was drawn in quickly and held tight to the end. I would not want to be Olivia: from childhood through her experience as a grandparent, life was harsh, impoverished, and filled with pain. There are moments of happiness, small treasures in a world of misery; the greatest of these is her grandson. Together they find hope, friendship, and love in their small Kentucky community. They also find a world of troubles. Most of their problems are no mystery.

The only reason I gave Sweeping up Glass four stars instead of five is the mystery. The plot is excellent, but for mystery readers, the puzzle is weak. In talking with Carolyn, I discovered she did not write this book with the intention of marketing it as a mystery, but the book was picked up by Poisoned Pen, a mystery publisher. They took it on the strength of the writing and the fact that the search to find out who was killing Olivia’s beloved wolves was a mystery element in an otherwise literary novel.

Whatever you think of the reasoning, I am very glad the book was published and would like to see more from Carolyn Wall. If you come to the book without the expectation of untangling a great mystery, I’m sure you will be delighted with the story. I highly recommend you read this book.

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