Cradle to Grave
Will Rees, a traveling weaver and amateur sleuth in 1797 Maine, hurries to New York to assist an old friend. “Mouse,” a young Shaker woman, has been accused of kidnapping several children to hide them from their neglectful mother in the Shaker community of Mount Unity. Rees and his new wife, Lydia, arrive to investigate the situation and clear Mouse. After the children’s mother, Maggie, is found dead, Mouse is now accused of this crime. Rees probes through the clues and uncovers bad behavior by several townspeople while he and Lydia end up caring for Maggie’s children. Soon, Rees’ life is in danger.
I commend the author for her unusual setting, though the historical details are scant. I learned little of the Shakers. Contradictions in the plot abound. Rees admires Maggie and her efforts to protect her brood, but she is a woman who would rather drink whiskey than care for the many illegitimate children sired by different fathers. Maggie also hoards silver dollars while her babies are starving. She is far from admirable. The mystery is interesting; however, the prose can be clumsy and repetitive. This is the third book in the series.