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STOLEN HONEY: A Mystery Featuring Ruth Willmarth

Nancy Means Wright, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-26245-7

Vermont's bucolic image takes a beating in this grim tale of vandalism, grave-robbing and murder, Wright's fourth (after 2000's Poison Apples) to feature amateur sleuth Ruth Willmarth. The trouble begins when beekeeper Gwen Woodleaf's mixed-race daughter, Donna, asks fratboy Shep Noble to drive her home after a party. After making a drunken amorous advance, Shep turns up dead in a patch of deadly nightshade, a forbidden plant cultivated by the Woodleafs. Suspicions point to either Donna's protective father, a pure-bred Indian who enjoys dressing the part, or a ruffian farmhand with his own designs on Donna. Neighbors who want to buy the Woodleafs' "sacred land" make their threats obvious. Meanwhile, professor Camille Wimmett is uncovering some nasty history concerning another mixed-race family, the Godineaux. When Camille is murdered, Ruth, whose daughter is a close friend of Donna's, carries on Camille's genealogical work while also looking for links to the double murder case. At times it's difficult to see how these two plots intertwine, for Ruth is at first fixated on the Godineaux and their many descendants. As she digs deeper, however, Ruth realizes that bigotry and hatred among families, races and even genders have led to terrible havoc in this less-than-idyllic corner of New England. The gentle jacket art suggests a cozy, but readers should be prepared for lots of unpleasantness leavened with some sobering feminist lessons. Agent, Alison Picard.(Apr. 15)

Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
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