From Publishers Weekly
Revisiting some of the characters from If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O, Edgar Award winner McCrumb weaves Appalachian folklore and death, in natural and unnatural forms, into a story that meanders like a mountain stream through the hills of east Tennessee before rushing to its turbulent conclusion. Wake County Sheriff Spencer Arrowood asks Laura Bruce, wife of the local Baptist minister, who is now an Army chaplain stationed overseas, to comfort the bereaved at the scene of a bloody murder. Ret. Maj. Paul Underhill, his wife and two of his four children are dead, shot apparently by one of the sons, who took his own life after killing the others. Laura serves as advocate for the surviving children, Maggie and Mark, who want to remain in the house so they can continue going to classes at the local high school. But when deputy Joe LeDonne discovers that the two have disinterred their father's body from its grave, he wants to know what really happened on the night of the shooting. Concurrently, 38-year-old Laura is told she is pregnant and local farmer Tavy Annis is diagnosed with cancer, brought on by a chemical spill in the Little Dove River. These plots twine around the knowledge of an old mountain seer whose gift adds to the haunting quality of the story and to its chilling suspense. Mystery Guild selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Kirkus Reviews
Here, McCrumb turns serious as she explores death from many angles: the matter-of-factness of a backwoodswoman with the gift of Sight; the get-even attitude of two old friends, one dying from the willful contamination of the Little Dover River by the Titan Paper Company; the emotional trauma paralyzing a brother and sister (who were subjects of physical abuse and witnesses to a family bloodbath and suicide); and the despair of a three-year-old who loses his mother, and of a pregnant woman who loses her unborn child. The story unfolds through the vision of Nora Bonesteel, whose Sight sets her to sewing a funeral quilt with six graves on it, and the ministrations of Dark Hollow, Tennessee, preacher's wife Laura Bruce, who is trying to tend to her husband's flock while he's serving in the Gulf. Four of the tombstones are soon co-opted by the Underhills--mother/father/two sons--and while Sheriff Arrowood tries to understand why son Joshua killed his kin and himself, two old friends hold the paper company's CEO hostage for carcinogenic polluting (another grave), and a trailer fire (another tombstone) fills out the quilt, while Laura, grieving for her unborn child, completes the dying cycle. Compelling, in the manner of a folk tale, despite the rather limp prose. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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