Louisa and the Country Bachelor

Written by Anna Maclean
Review by Michael I. Shoop

This is second in a series of mysterious adventures involving author Louisa May Alcott. In this installment, Maclean (a.k.a. Jeanne Mackin) packs Louisa and her family off to visit relatives and enjoy a much-needed vacation in bucolic Walpole, New Hampshire. It’s the summer of 1855, and the usually peaceful village is simmering with hidden secrets and hostilities. Louisa and the rest of the Alcotts are soon plunged into events surrounding the death of an immigrant named Ernst Nooteboom. Was it an accident, or murder? Was he killed for his very desirable land holdings? Suspects and motives abound, implicating everyone from the overbearing village storekeeper to the victim’s sister Lilli to the much-married Mrs. Ida Tupper and her son Clarence Hampton. As other attacks and deaths occur, Louisa realizes just how far this murderer will go. Although only moderately suspenseful, the generous mix of oddly assorted characters and the village setting make this a pleasantly diverting outing. Fans of Alcott and period mysteries in general will enjoy it.