Thursday, January 18, 2018

Book Review: 'Hell with the Lid Blown Off' by Donis Casey


Murder and mayhem burn through the town of Boynton, Oklahoma faster than a twister gone wild.
In the summer of 1916 a large twister carves a path of destruction into the rural town of Boynton, Oklahoma. A cast of characters, each threatened by the odious Jubal Beldon in his or her own way, finds themselves in the middle of a murder investigation. A book in the Alafair Tucker mystery series, the tale winds around on itself and lays out one or two particular surprises at the end.
For someone who has not read any of the series beforehand, it didn’t take me long to figure out what was happening. The unique way the author used to show many points of view was very effective in a murder mystery and really showed what times were like back in 1916. The language, the mannerisms of the local people…everything, even including some pretty sharp prejudices.
At the onset of the book, it did take me awhile to figure out where the story was leading. You got to meet a host of people and learned quickly what an unpleasant person Jubal Beldon was. He lied, created rumors where there was nothing to see and made a host of people’s lives miserable. When a twister hit the town and he was found dead, there were many who were glad to see him not residing on the planet any longer. But who might have hated or feared him enough to actually have killed him?
An investigation is formed and one by one suspects have their secrets laid bare. The twist at the end is a good one, but the conclusion was fairly uneventful. The one issue I had with the book was the issue of homosexuality and the abject hatred people had for anyone perceived as gay in those times. I felt the author was making a point about motivational factors as regards to murder, but at times it frankly made me uncomfortable. The misery of the accused characters and repercussions of being found out were horrendous. The family issues of being disowned were also very emotionally infused. I would indeed be curious as to the author’s views on the subject and why she chose to show that particular part of history in her work.
For the most part, I enjoyed the story. It was like coming home to visit a group of relatives I had never met in a small town I had never been to. I would read more books by the author and congratulate her on a powerful use of many different POV throughout the book.
If you enjoy down home country cooking with a side of mystery, then you must check out the Alafair Tucker series.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.