Graven Images: A Singular Village Mystery
Set in 1830s Zoar, Ohio, Graven Images is the second in the Singular Village Mystery series. We continue the story of Adelaide, a midwife in a small Society of Separatists village. Here the book’s title reflects the craft of the victim – a wandering artist (limner) who draws images of people for money. The Society does not allow such false images and harries any villagers who possess them. Just as the limner is visiting the village, a traveling Irish family is also passing through, and when the artist is found hanging from the rafters of a barn, the patriarch of the Irish family is implicated – and Adelaide is once more needed to help sort fact from innuendo.
Sullivan’s experience in telling these village stories shows; she does a good job bringing readers up to speed in this second volume. Characters are introduced at a good pace with sufficient backstory, and the ancillary story lines are kept to a minimum. The pace is quick and steady, and there is a commendable sense of place: Zoar is presented realistically, with evidence of extensive research. The protagonist is a strong woman, set as a foil against her own village at times; this gives rise to some interesting discussions. It is to be hoped that there are more volumes to come in this series – a book perfect for any summer reading list.