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The Devil's Cold Dish (Will Rees) by Eleanor Kuhns
Cover Artist: Malgorzata Maj /Arcangel Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250093356
Date: 14 June 2016 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

It is 1797 and the weaver Will Rees and his pregnant wife, Lydia, have just returned to their farm in the small town of Dugard, Maine. Someone hates them very much. Their lives become a living nightmare. At night, their farm is vandalized. Lydia is accused of practicing witchcraft; she is nearly stoned to death in the market square. Will is accused of several murders. He and Lydia must go into hiding in order to escape the hangman's noose. Meanwhile, Will continues his investigation, determined to learn who hates him enough to destroy his entire life.

Will Rees has experienced danger many times but never as much as he does in Eleanor Kuhn's latest novel, The Devil's Cold Dish. His life becomes a virtual nightmare--a living hell. One would think he was fighting a war in a foreign country. No, he is hiding from the ignorant, narrow-minded, superstitious citizens living in his own hometown of Dugard. For example, Zebediah Farley wears an amulet to protect himself from witchcraft. Evil men get drunk at the Bull, a local bar. They are easily riled into a frenzy by the hate speech coming from the cowardly Farley. They form a lynch mob and then storm onto Will's farm, searching for either Will or Lydia to hang.

Books by Eleanor Kuhn
Will Rees Mysteries:
* A Simple Murder
* Death of a Dyer
* Cradle to Grave
* Death in Salem
* The Devil's Cold Dish
Will has a lot of burdens to bear. First, he has a rebellious sixteen-year-old son, David, who still bears a grudge against him. Will has adopted five orphans (Simon, Jerusha, Judah, Nancy, and Joseph) and has married Lydia, a former Shaker, who is pregnant with their first child. His sister, Caroline Prentiss, is an extremely cruel woman; she belittles him, spreads vicious gossip about his wife, and steals livestock from his farm. She has laid a horrible guilt trip over him for injuring her husband, Sam, who now suffers with brain damage; he is as mentally feeble as a toddler. Caroline has always been spoiled; she expects to loll around her home while Will and Lydia wait on her. However, her son, Charlie, helps with the farming, but her two daughters, Georgina and Gwendolyn, are too small to help much.

Indeed, Will has a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders. He is so involved with farming, which he detests, he doesn't have much time for his beloved weaving. His friends turn their backs on him. Many of the townspeople think he is snobbish for having traveled to far away cities, such as Mt. Unity, New York, and Salem, Massachusetts. To be honest, Will has never liked the provincial town of Dugard. He, like many young people of modern times, craves the excitement of a large city. Having grown up in a small town myself (the type where everyone knows your business and exhibits little sympathy or understanding towards those who are different), I can relate.

Eleanor Kuhn's The Devil's Cold Dish is a tasty meal that will satisfy the hunger of most fans of historical mysteries. However, it is anything but cold. I found it steaming hot with tension, suspense and shocking violence. It filled me with fear, dread and anger. I was constantly afraid that one of Will's adopted children or his wife or his wife's unborn baby would be harmed. Drunken, unruly, jealous, vindictive rednecks (brandishing ropes and rifles) were constantly searching Will's home and farm. No one in his household appeared safe. Poor Will didn't know who to trust.

The Devil's Cold Dish left me feeling cold towards my fellow man. Fortunately, where the Devil's men have gathered, there will be found some Godly men. I can't wait to be served the next dish in Kuhn's incredible mystery series.

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