In the years following World War II, a town too proud of its own virtues has to deal with its first murder.
Despite the implications of this crime, the town of Beneficent, Mississippi, population 479, tries desperately to hold onto its vain self-image. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in town. While the sheriff tries to find the murderer, Jack and Lisa’s contentious courtship reveals the town’s strange combination of astute perceptions and surprising blind spots. Then they stumble onto shocking discoveries about the true nature of the town. But where will those discoveries lead? To repentance or to denial and continuation in vanity?
My thoughts: I have enjoyed the previous mysteries that I have read by this author, so I was looking forward to reading this one, since it is is a different setting then the series I have read by him. I thought that Donn Taylor did an excellent job of bringing the time period and the characters to life. I liked how the mystery played out. This is a wonderful story to pick up!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.
About the Author
Raised in Mississippi, Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterward, he earned a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His published works include six suspense novels and a book of poetry. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics
More from Donn
There’s a very personal background to my historical romance Lightning on a Quiet Night. When I was seventeen, my parents moved from central Mississippi to teach at a college in the northeastern corner of the state. I quickly came to love the region’s wooded hills and small, fertile valleys, and I developed an appreciation for the people who lived there. That region was also where I met Mildred, who taught me the meaning of love. The critical stage of our courtship occurred when the area was snowbound. By the time the snow melted (with no help from us, of course) we were engaged.
So when, decades later, I came to write a historical novel, I set it in a fictitious town in that region, and in 1948, the time period Mildred and I had known together. I wanted to write about love, of course, but I also wanted to write about the everyday citizens of that region—the storekeepers, small-town bankers, farmers—people of good will who seemed never to be accurately represented in fiction.
Readers will find the main focus of the novel to be romance, suspense, and comedy—with a snowbound love scene, of course. But as the writing progressed, the scope of the story broadened. What would happen if a town too proud of its virtues had to deal with its first murder? How would its citizens struggle against the reality of human imperfection? I’d started out to write about love and solving a murder but found myself grappling with the most basic problems of human life.
How successful was this? Readers will decide, but I can say I was gratified when Publishers Weekly wrote that the novel had “passion and heart” and showed “a keen understanding of the human condition.”
Among my books, this was Mildred’s favorite, and she helped in many ways during the writing. She lived long enough to read its dedication to her and to see the novel contracted, though not to see it in print.
But enough of the personal: Readers want mostly to be entertained by a good story, and I hope that is what I have given them.
Inklings and notions, January 12
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 13
deb’s Book Review, January 14
Mary Hake, January 14
Locks, Hooks and Books, January 15
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 16
Connie’s History Classroom, January 17
Artistic Nobody, January 18 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Sara Jane Jacobs, January 19
Texas Book-aholic, January 20
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 21
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 22
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 23
A Novel Pursuit, January 23
Pause for Tales, January 24
For Him and My Family, January 25
To celebrate his tour, Donn is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card plus one paperback copy of Lightning on a Quiet Night!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.