Book Review: Wishing Caswell Dead by Pat Stoltey

Wishing Caswell Dead
Pat Stoltey
FiveStar/Cengage, December 2017
ISBN 978-1-4328-3440-1
Hardcover

The story, set in the early 1800s, opens with the discovery of Caswell Proud’s body propped against a tree in the Illinois wilderness woods. Obviously murdered, his throat has been cut. Who has done it? Authorities, though lacking on the frontier, aren’t overly concerned because Caswell richly deserved to die. The suspects? Everyone in the small village of Sangamon, but especially his fourteen-year-old half-sister, Jo Mae. She is pregnant, Caswell having sold her body to nearly everyone in town from the time she was big enough to be used. Sadly, the young man’s mother had indulged his every whim and failed to protect her daughter.

But support for Jo Mae comes from unexpected sources. Has one of them carried the protective spirit all the way to murder? And how did anyone catch the wily Caswell off guard enough to get the drop on him, a man whom even a lightning strike couldn’t kill? Just know that with the universally hated Caswell dead, most everyone gives a sigh of relief, hoping now their worst secrets are safely hidden away. But are they?

The novel is filled with flawed characters, only a couple who have generosity of spirit and deserve sympathy. Caswell may not even be the worst of the lot. Readers will have to decide for themselves in this rock-solid, riveting tale.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, February 2018.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder, Four Furlongs and Hometown Homicide.

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