The Blind in Darkness
Old Man Powell is found murdered in his cabin, the crime disguised as a scalping. The natural suspect is Massaquoit, an Indian whom midwife Catherine Williams keeps as a servant after his tribe is decimated by the Puritan settlers. While Catherine is portrayed as the heroine, in reality it’s Massaquoit who takes the lead to clear his name. Other suspects include Powell’s apprentice Thomas, recently disappeared, and the Worthingtons, somber village leaders with something to hide.
Reading novels not first in a series can leave one with the feeling of entering a crowded room filled with strangers, and in the case of this book, the newly met company is standoffish and distant. Catherine is barely given an introduction, and I hardly felt the sense of community that would be expected in a tightly-knit Puritan settlement. Comparisons with Margaret Lawrence’s mystery series, also set in early New England and featuring a midwife as heroine, are inevitable, and in my opinion this novel doesn’t quite measure up. The old-fashioned language used by the characters, though, seems perfectly appropriate, and the situations showcasing Catherine’s medical techniques make the novel worth reading.