Book Review: Lethal Lineage by Charlotte Hinger

Lethal Lineage
Charlotte Hinger
Poisoned Pen Press, March 2011
ISBN No. 978-1590588376
Hardcover (ARC)

You might think life in a little Kansas town would be boring but Lottie Albright and her sister Josie can testify that sometimes it is just downright exciting to say nothing of being a little dangerous.

St. Helena’s is a small Episcopal Church built on the corners of four western Kansas Counties.  The church is the result of donations of money, land, and labor by members of the congregation who are anxiously awaiting the first service in their own church.  What should be a joyous occasion suddenly turns into a tragic affair when Reverend Mary Farnsworth drops the sacramental wine and rushes to the anteroom.  When the door to the anteroom is finally opened, Mary is dead.  What is first believed to be a suicide is soon found to be murder.  Mary has been poisoned.

Lottie Albright acts as undersheriff of the county as well as historian.   Lottie soon discovers that although Mary has lived in town for years no one really knows anything about her history or if she has family.  Lottie is at a loss as to who to notify about Mary’s death.  Lottie’s twin sister, Josie, is assisting Lottie in her search for Mary’s identity.

The two sisters run up against a crooked sheriff from an adjoining county who tries to take control of the investigation and the battle is on.   Lottie’s husband, Keith Feine, is not pleased with the sheriff’s action so he joins in the battle to unseat Sheriff Deal who has a lot of family to support him but he has run roughshod over the county too long so it is a bitter fight.

In Lottie’s role as historian, she is compiling family histories and Edna Mavery has quite a story to tell.  Edna also insists that there was a man at the church that whispered to Mary right before she ran to the anteroom.  Edna feels sure that this man gave Mary a heart attack.  As Lottie learns more about Edna, she discovers that Edna has many secrets of her own.

Lethal Lineage is the second book in the Lottie and Josie Albright series.   Charlotte Hinger takes the story in several different directions but the story comes together with a satisfying and surprising ending.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, February 2011.