Lethal Lineage Paperback – Large Print, Mar 1 2011
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“appealing second mystery . . . a whodunit that will keep the reader turning the pages until the dramatic conclusion.”— Publisher’s Weekly
“Lottie’s second case is a worthy successor to Deadly Descent (2009). Deftly drawn characters and a complicated but believable mystery leave you yearning for more.”— Kirkus Reviews
"unusual and well-written sequel to Deadly Descent.”—Library Journal
"an intriguing tale that links current events to old rivalries. Readers will be waiting for Lottie’s next case."— Booklist
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Lethal Lineage starts in church with Lottie, and members from several counties, attending the first service at the new church they built themselves. But the day is marred when Episcopal priest Mary Farnsworth has a panic attack, locks herself in another room, and is there found dead after the service. No windows, only one door. A natural physical ailment is ruled out.
The mystery deepens when there is no record anywhere of Mary Farnsworth's history, family, or other relations. And then there's the strange Bishop who was officiating for the baptism of Lottie's niece...He reminds Lottie of a priest she researched who lived 150 years ago.
A lot to contemplate here, and with Hinger's good writing the lively plot moves along quickly. We see her conflicts with being a sheriff and also a wife and a working historian; to lessen her burdens, her husband takes on the vacant deputy position, and is also on the case. Both of them really rile the sheriff of a neighboring county and he makes trouble.
Throw into this mix Lottie's continuing interviews with county people for family history, and, lo!, some seem to be tangential to the Farnsworth murder. Also, Lottie's very urban twin sister, Josie, gets involved after a not-so-smart arrest by the neighboring county sheriff. And then there's the fiddle contest...
Sound complex? Well it is, and I think Hinger nearly undid herself. The information that led to the denouement, while it tied up all the loose ends of the story, is presented quite late and it seemed a scramble to get it all told. And then there's Edna... Well, you know how it is with some characters: you either love 'em or you hate 'em...
All in all, Lethal Lineage is an interesting whodunit with complex characters and descriptive writing. I look forward to the next Lottie Albright adventure.
The Episcopalians in Lottie Albright's corner of western Kansas have worked hard to build a small church on a parcel of land that sits on the corners of four counties. The first day they gather together for a sermon, communion, and the confirmation of Lottie's niece.
The bishop gives an inappropriate sermon filled with hellfire and brimstone, and everyone is thunderstruck when beloved Reverend Mary Farnsworth drops the chalice during communion and locks herself in the anteroom. Lottie's sister Josie, a psychologist, stays after the service to comfort Mary, but Lottie orders her sister to leave when the locked door is opened and Mary's body is found on the floor. Frightened by the bishop's strange rituals for disposing of the spilled wine, Lottie would like nothing better than to leave, but as undersheriff, she must stay to attend to the death.
An elderly lady who attended the service insists that a man kneeling next to her scared Reverend Mary into a heart attack which gives credence to Lottie's belief that this was not a natural death. Calling in other law enforcement agencies, Lottie discovers many more questions than answers as the investigation moves forward.
The first book in this series, Deadly Descent, relied a great deal on Lottie's skill as an historian digging through old records, documents, and genealogical charts. In Lethal Lineage, Lottie finds herself focusing more on the oral histories of several county residents. She also realizes that she's bitten off more than she can chew in her work for the county historical society and as undersheriff. It is something on which both she and her husband must come to some sort of agreement while Lottie tries to find a killer and deal with a sheriff whose family has ridden roughshod over a neighboring county for decades.
Hinger brings sparsely populated western Kansas to life by seamlessly including details of how poor counties constantly battle budget constraints as well as how feuds, secrets and lies never seem to die out no matter how many decades pass. (Have you ever stopped to wonder how many fewer books would be written if people everywhere would simply tell the truth?)
Her three main characters-- Lottie, her sister Josie, and her husband Keith-- are strong, vivid people who care for one another deeply although they don't always see eye-to-eye. I feel as if I've known them my whole life.
In just two books I've fallen in love with the setting, the characters, and the way Charlotte Hinger can tell a story. Lethal Lineage stands alone quite well, but I think it would be best to start at the beginning so you can fully appreciate the fascinating work Charlotte does at the historical society, as well as the dynamics between the characters. This is a highly recommended book in a highly recommended series. I can't wait for book number three!
There are so many different angles to this book to pull different sorts of readers in. It's rather unusual to have a protagonist who is both an amateur sleuth and a law enforcement officer, but that is exactly what readers have in Lottie Albright. While she came to Western Kansas as the Director of the County Historical Society, she soon found herself a part-time deputy for the Sheriff's Department and is now in fact the Under Sheriff. So while the book is technically a police procedural, it's also an amateur detective novel. Because Lottie's current project at the Historical Society is writing the county's history through the stories of the residents, it is very much historical fiction as well.
Then there's the rich detailing of Western Kansas for a setting which brings the area to life leaving no confusion with the reader that Lottie's Kansas is far, far away from Kansas City-and not just in miles. Through the oral histories of the families readers learn much of how this area of the country came to be settled-what drew people to what was not by any measure an easy life in the early days.
For readers fond of mysteries set around religion, there is the interesting plot line centered on the Episcopal Church. The death of Mary Farnsworth immediately sets off a controversy over who has jurisdiction over the investigation since the church is built on land straddling four different counties. Some really interesting history of church building on the prairies and the history of clergy known as "tent builders" are entwined throughout the book.
But the thread that pulls all of these things together is the remarkable characters found in the Lottie Albright books. Lottie and her twin sister Josie are a different as can be, but in spite of their personality differences, there is the strong "twin" interconnection. Keith Feine, Lottie's husband struggles to accept his wife's involvement with the Sheriff's Department. His children who are not exactly thrilled to have a stepmother more their age than their father's present a dose of reality in the family dynamics. The various community members who fight amongst themselves on nearly every issue, but close ranks quickly against any outside threat to their community-all of these people come together on the pages of Hinger's book to give the plot depth and bringing it to life.
With so many different angles, it's hard to imagine a reader not being drawn into this book. The book's short chapters end with a teaser to keep the pace moving, making it hard to put the book down once started. This is quickly becoming one of my "must read" series.
Lottie Albright made her debut in Charlotte Hinger's first novel in this series titled Deadly Descent. I wish I had read Deadly Descent first just because I know it would have been an excellent introduction to Lottie and her family. But not having read the first book did not infringe on my understanding at all of any circumstances in Lethal Lineage.
Lottie is both an under-sheriff in the county in which she lives, she is also the county historian. Through both of these occupations she interacts with everyone in her county in Western Kansas. It is through all these wonderful characters that the story evolves and keeps you from putting the book down. I really wasn't expecting the ending at all but of course once it was revealed it made complete and utter sense! I highly recommend this wonderful mystery.