cover image Murder on Principle

Murder on Principle

Eleanor Kuhns. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-5007-2

In Kuhns’s tense 10th outing for Will Rees, a weaver in late 18th-century Maine, repercussions follow from a recent trip south Rees and his wife made in 2021’s Death in the Great Dismal. In Virginia, they rescued a Black woman, an old friend of theirs, from slavers—and freed two other slaves, a young woman, Sandy , and her infant son, who accompanied them back to Maine. When a stabbed and strangled body is found on the Rees farm, Constable Rouge identifies the victim as Randolph Gilbert, a Virginian looking for Sandy and her child, who belonged to Gilbert’s sister, Charlotte Sechrest. The stakes rise when Sechrest shows up with some slave catchers and has them search the Rees home for her quarry. Sechrest, who notes Rees resembles the man described as having taken her slaves, accuses him of her brother’s murder. When Rouge falls ill from smallpox, he makes Rees acting constable, putting the weaver in a difficult position. The intricate plot builds to a satisfying resolution. This sobering look at the cultural divide over slavery in the early days of the Republic deserves a wide audience. Agent: Mitchell S. Waters, Brandt & Hochman. (Aug.)