Death in Salem by Eleanor Kuhns
Will Rees is a weaver from Maine visiting Salem on his way home from selling his wares on the road. He’s hoping to purchase a nice present for his pregnant wife, but instead bumps into a friend who saved his life in the war; and that would be the Revolutionary War for its 1796 when our mystery is set. Will’s friend, nicknamed Twig, is the local undertaker and he’s leading the funeral procession for the long ailing Mrs. Antiss Boothe. Her family is well respected in the town and when her husband is found murdered shortly after her funeral the town is in shock. No one more so than Twig who races to find Will, who recently left for home, and bring him back to Salem to solve the crime. The woman Twig loves, the slave belonging to the Boothe household, is accused of the murder and locked in the jail.
It’s obvious from the get-go that the accused didn’t commit the crime. She wouldn’t have had the strength. Yet the politics and secrets of the wealthy shipowners of Salem trip Will up as he tries to uncover who would have a motive and the opportunity to murder Mr. Boothe.
Those fans of historical mysteries will find a lot to like here. There is a lot of local color and period detail. I did find some of the “mysteries” easy to solve but that was because I’m looking at the situation with modern eyes. Will wouldn’t have (and didn’t) make some of the jumps a modern reader would which was accurate to the time, yet annoying as far as crafting a mystery. It was slower paced than I like my mysteries, but again, true to the time. I both read and listened to this book and recommend reading it over listening; some of the voices the narrator used I found a bit annoying in their tone.