Death of a Dutch Uncle

Written by M. E. Kemp
Review by Trudi E. Jacobson

When Laurens de Noyes dies on Boston Common, right at the feet of Increase “Creasy” Cotton, a minister and cousin to Cotton Mather, Creasy is asked to investigate. De Noyes was the nephew of the Patroon in Albany, but when Creasy announces the death to the Patroon and to de Noyes’s wife, their reactions are oddly muted. Creasy is joined in his search for the killer by the lively and indomitable widow Hetty Henry, a savvy Boston businesswoman who often trades goods in the Albany area.

Kemp vividly depicts the frontier settlement that wasAlbanyin the 1690s, with its Dutch customs and manners that were so different from those of the British. Hetty is good friends with Billy Blue Bear, the Harvard-educated Mohawk leader, but the local population is particularly wary of Indians: theSchenectadymassacre had just recently occurred. Hetty is not the only strong female character, and the interplay between the men and the women is a very enjoyable aspect of the novel. The murder does get solved, by the way, but there is so much to enjoy along the way that I’d almost forgotten about it! I very much hope to read more of the adventures of Creasy and Hetty, and plan to hunt up the first book in the series.