The Western Wind

Samantha Harvey. Grove, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2828-7
Harvey (Dear Thief) weaves a dazzling tapestry around loss and confession in late-15th-century England in this breathtaking novel. Thomas Newman, benevolent landlord and relative newcomer to the hamlet of Oakham, disappeared into the river on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday. Parish priest John Reve recounts the icy unnamed rural dean’s condescending investigation into the death across four days in reverse order, beginning on Shrove Tuesday, the day Newman’s shirt is found near the river. The dean urges Reve to report any information gleaned from the parish’s pre-Lent confessions to determine if Newman was killed, slipped, or committed suicide. During his investigation, Reve hears about the mundane mistakes, distressing habits, and intentionally aggressive mutterings from a number of possible suspects. There’s Lord Townshend, the landowner who has reluctantly sold holdings to Newman to pursue his quixotic cheese-making endeavors; Herry Carter, who thought of Newman as a father but is behaving as if he needs to atone; Sarah Spenser, who keeps confessing to the murder but may be seeking the relief of death from her wasting disease; and other shady types with suspicious reactions. Amid his attempts to deflect the dean’s intrusions and comfort his flock, Reve mourns his sister’s recent departure and recalls Newman’s friendly jabs against priestly intercession in favor of personal piety. Harvey’s final chapter unspools the truth of Newman’s death and Reve’s own surprising secrets. The lush period details and acute psychological insight will thrill fans of literary mysteries and historical fiction. This is an utterly engrossing novel. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/03/2018
Release date: 11/01/2018
Ebook - 978-0-8021-4653-3
Library Binding - 465 pages - 978-1-4328-6095-0
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