After losing her husband, five children, housekeeper, and beautiful home in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Rachel Blackwood rebuilt her home, and later died there, having been driven mad with grief.
In present-day Texas, Claire, the grand niece of Rachel’s caretaker, has inherited the house and wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast. But she is concerned that it’s haunted, so she calls in her friend Ruby—who has the gift of extrasensory perception—to check it out. While Ruby is ghost-hunting, China Bayles walks into a storm of trouble in nearby Pecan Springs. A half hour before she is to make her nightly deposit, the Pecan Springs bank is robbed and a teller is shot and killed. Before she can discover the identity of the killers, China follows Ruby to the Blackwood house to discuss urgent business. As she is drawn into the mystery of the haunted house, China opens the door on some very real danger… (synopsis from Publishers Weekly)
Sissy: I’ve read books from this series before from time to time and I picked this new one up at the library and was really surprised how quickly I got back into the series and how engrossing the story was.
Bubby: I am pretty sure I read the first or second in the series ages ago but I can tell you that you don’t need to have any knowledge of the series or characters to enjoy Widow’s Tears. It works quite well as a stand-alone novel.
Sissy: Susan Wittig Albert is a great storyteller. She took a headline from a 100-year-old catastrophe and wove it into a modern-day tale. The main character of the series, China Bayles, appears in this book but it is really a story about her best friend and business partner Ruby.
Bubby: I had never heard of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 until this book. Did you know that it is the deadliest natural disaster in US History? Check out http://www.gthcenter.org/exhibits/storms/index.html for photos of the aftermath. I enjoyed the fiction part of the story but I found myself fascinated by the Galveston Storm – so much so that Sissy and I have just spent the last 30 minutes looking at the pictures.
Sissy: I love it when a writer takes an actual historic event and weaves in some fictional characters to make a new story. This story also has a modern-day murder mystery as well as a downright spooky ghost story. I found myself reading the scary parts while I was alone in my house and I had to keep telling myself that I was a grown woman and it was just a story and I didn’t need to keep checking the hallways!
Bubby: I know what you mean! I had to huddle under a blanket because I was cold (even though it’s super hot outside) and was listening for thunder and watching for lightning out my window (even though it was a clear, blue sky day) – waiting for the floodwaters to rise, even though I live on a hill in the mountains!
Sissy: Ruby is the perfect person for this ghostly adventure because she is what you might call “a sensitive”. She has consistently tried to deny this gift but finally in this book (which is at least #21 in the series), she makes use of her full psychic powers. Ruby is also big-busted and attracts men like flies to honey, so in this sense she reminds me of myself.
Bubby: Oh, yes, you buxom sweet thing, you. I think that perhaps you are a little psychic too.
Sissy: Definitely psychic.
Bubby: Or is it psycho? I can never keep those two straight . . .
Sissy: Courtesy laugh in your general direction.
Bubby: At any rate, Widow’s Tears was a fantastic read that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I am feeling the need now to go back and check out the rest of the series. My only issue with these books is the fact that they can definitely be classified as “cozy mysteries” and that’s ok as long as Sissy picks them. But when I pick them, then they are somehow unsuitable. Not that I have an issue with this or anything.
Sissy: These are definitely NOT cozy mysteries. They are too sinister and the writing has too much depth and mastery foor that classification. I can intuitively tell you what is and what is not a cozy mystery.
Bubby: Hmmm. Let’s see – small group of characters living in a small town where large amounts of people are murdered randomly and bodies (as well as perpetrators) are found by one of said small group of characters. Repeatedly. Pretty sure that was Sissy’s main issue with cozies. Therefore, these qualify.
Sissy: Sometimes you just have to go with the more mature and wise viewpoint that comes with living one’s life on the psychic wavelength. Don’t fight it, Bubby. Just go with my intuition. Plus, none of our characters found the dead body or had anything to do with it in this story. Plus, there’s the Galveston hurricane angle.
Bubby: I was speaking of the series as a whole, not just this book. But whatever. I have learned that sometimes it’s just easier to let Sissy win – otherwise she pouts and moans and I have to placate her with chocolate. Read the book. It’s a good one. I give it 4 bubbles.
Sissy: I give it 4.25 bubbles for excellent writing and ghostiness and historiosity.
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© Bubble Bath Books 2013