Friday, July 5, 2019

Every Hill and Mountain (History Mystery #3), by Deborah Heal (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Write Brain Books, September 2014 (original publication March 2013)

Abby Thomas has been having a productive and enjoyable summer in southern Illinois, with her tutoring student/college service project Merri, her new boyfriend, handsome and sweet John Roberts, and all the new friends she's been making. Unfortunately, she has also told her friend and college roommate, Kate, about the very unusual computer program, Beautiful Houses, which has enabled them to "time-surf" and solve local mysteries.

The most recent one was the Old Dears' (Eulah and Beulah) genealogy mystery of why their father's side of the family seemed so oddly truncated. This has reignited Kate's interest in her own genealogy project, and she's told her wonderful boyfriend, Ryan, about it.

Ryan insists on calling Kate, "Katherine." He's very judgmental about carbs and fats. No eating establishment in the immediate area is quite good enough for him. He'll be entering law school in the fall, like John, but to him there's only one acceptable law school in the state, and it's not the one John is going to. Merri's home, the formerly grand Miles Station, which Merri's mother Pat is working to restore in between making a living, he sees simply as old and outdated. He's sure he's smarter than the rest of them, and he has no patience for not getting what he wants, when he wants it.

He's only sort of willing to indulge Kate's genealogical obsession, if it isn't too much inconvenience.

And once he knows what the Beautiful Houses program really does, he sees dollar signs, and can't understand why everyone, or if not the silly, sentimental girls, at least John, isn't on board with him.

I don't like Ryan; I guess that's obvious.

Meanwhile, there's Kate's genealogical mystery. Her line, on one side, seems to end abruptly with a Ned Greenfield, born at Hickory Hill in Equality, Illinois, in the late 1830s. When they get to Equality, everyone, including the Mayor and the Chief of Police, is friendly and helpful right up until they mention Hickory Hill. No one wants to talk to them about it, no one wants them doing any research about it. People are strangely convinced that they must be reporters digging up dirt. And while there is a Greenfield family in the area, they can't be related to Kate. They're black.

There is so much opportunity for this basically light mystery to be shallow and silly, and Deborah Heal rejects that at every turn. Michelle Babb's narration adds to the respect shown to the issues and the people involved.

Each of these stories has been better than the last. Recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the narrator, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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