Monday, October 24, 2011

Cheat the Hangman by Gloria Ferris

Published by Imajin Books

I completely immersed myself in this well-written book enjoying every minute. It was definitely deserving of being short-listed for the Crime Writers of Canada "Unhanged Arthur". Gloria Ferris' writing reminded me somewhat of one of my favourite authors, Donna Andrews, especially with the very large quirky extended family interaction and antics. She brings "skeletons in the closet" to a whole new level. Take a decades-old cold case of a missing child, a sudden unexpected inheritance of a huge fabulous and museum-like home to divorced grand-niece Lyris Pembroke, who must then quickly plan and host the annual Pembroke family reunion comprised of about 400 extended family members all too soon after moving into her new home. Throw in a good helping of the paranormal and hidden secrets, a headstone with no name, a fire, attacks on Lyris and you have a pretty good perception of what fun this book is going to be. Lyris definitely has her work cut out for her. Fortunately she has also inherited Conklin the butler, and is able to hire Caroline, an excellent cook and housekeeper. For the reunion, Lyris shows admirable organizational ability as she works her way through what must be done prior to the reunion.

Not all is fun and games, though. There are also some dangerous intruders lurking about, not all of them necessarily human. Or perhaps otherworldly would be a better way to put it. Toss in a small dog with sharp teeth, soon joined by an oversized black cat, and the house begins to fill with more rooms occupied than the residents realize. Spanning so many decades, it would be strange if there were not romances, both current and decades old. Reignited passions, and reawakened love and trust with those who have suffered at the hands of their exes in the past and discover there is still a chance for happiness, even if it comes almost too late. The book is loaded with many different types of chaos and stress and yet it doesn't confuse the reader, it is just all a part of the whole. I loved the balance of the book, I laughed at the shenanigans, shed a few tears as the cold case is dealt with, worried with our heroine, relived the past with the few remaining WWII veterans even enjoying the singing of Vera Lynn in my mind, went through terror, thrills and chills, and loved the ending. This book certainly ran through a gamut of emotions, old and new. I am really looking forward to the further adventures to come.

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