Book review: Scarlet Widow - Graham Masterton

London, 1750: Beatrice Scarlet is the apothecary's daughter. She can mix medicines and herbs to save the lives of her neighbours - but, try as she might, she can't save the lives of her parents. An orphan at just sixteen, Beatrice marries a preacher and emigrates to America.
New Hampshire, 1756: In the farming community where Beatrice now lives, six pigs are found viciously slaughtered; slices of looking-glass embedded in their mouths. According to scripture, this is the work of Satan - but Beatrice Scarlet suspects the hands of men. As she closes in on the killer, she must act quickly to unmask him - or become the next victim herself...
My opinion.
Set in the 18th century, inquisitive and intelligent Beatrice lives in a world where the truth is dictated by religion and superstition. There are certain things that are expected of a woman, and certain things that are not. As a trained apothecary, Bea has an independent mind and a more rational outlook on live than most of her friends and neighbours.
Graham Masterton writes a complete and detailed setting, both in 18th century London and New Hampshire, where he beautifully captures the time's spirit in a variation of characters.
When horrible events shake up their little town, the search for the culprit gets delayed by the superstition that surrounds the various attacks. The mood in the village turns. Scary and disturbing things are happening,  covered in mystery. For me however, the rush and excitement of a crime thriller stayed out because of the time the conversations, confrontations and events took. The pace of the novel is in harmony with the spirit of the era. This however meant that I never had the feeling of being chased, or haunted - even though the book did have all the elements of a very exciting  thriller. So not as much a thriller as it was a gripping historical novel.
Apart from the pace slowing me and the 'excitement' down, the amount of detail Graham Masterton was able to provide was astonishing and I enjoyed reading Scarlet Widow. I wouldn't have guessed this to be the start of a series, but I'm sure I'll be very much tempted in the future to return to Beatrice Scarlet and Graham Masterton's writing.



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