The Avalon Chanter
Lillian Stewart Carl
Five Star, January 2014
I’ve never been a fan of the supernatural or paranormal novel. Too many times, in my reading experience, the authors allow defiance of corporal laws of physics to surmount plot difficulties or intellectual quandaries to be solved by the convenient appearance of an apparition. That being said, I have no difficulty believing in spirits or strange manifestations and in this novel, author Carl may have converted me.
In the English world there is hardly another set of legends that can match those of the Authurian. Sir Lancelot, King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and Merlin and Mordred. Add the waves of religious recruitment and conversions. Then add the brooding, unforgiving land, peopled by hardy residents who remain close to the land and all that means.
To the legendary island of Small Farnaby off the coast of Northumberland comes American writer Jean Fairbairn with her retired Scot policeman, Alasdair Cameron. She is drawn there by a native-born archeologist who is planning to open a tomb in a medieval chapel and thereby prove her contention that the little island could very well be the Avalon of legend and thus solve some of England’s most enduring historical questions. When the tomb is opened, however, mysteries only deepen. Murder, chicanery, deep passions all rise from past to present and Jean Fairbairn’s husband is forced out of retirement to take control of an isolated police investigation.
The novel is beautifully written and whether you believe the ethereal singing of ancient Priory nuns is real or mere wisps from the fog-shrouded sea only enhances the brooding atmosphere of danger that pervades the pages of this novel. The family complications and old passions are complicated and carefully worked out to logical conclusions so that in the end, the resolution to mystery and murder is solidly satisfying. An excellent novel that comes strongly recommended.
Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2013.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.