Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Charm Stone-Lillian Stewart Carl

The Charm Stone
Lillian Stewart Carl
Five Star, Nov 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147708

For the past several years Texas born forty year old writer Jean Fairbairn has lived in Scotland with her lover former cop Alasdair Cameron. However, she and Alasdair are in Virginia researching an article on Lady Dunsmore, wife of the last English governor of the Commonwealth for the magazine she co-owns, Great Scot. Whereas Jean plans on working, Alasdair plans on enjoying Williamsburg as a welcome respite from his private security company, Protect and Survive.

Dunsmore owned a "witch box" which allegedly contained a charm stone that is on display at the nearby DeWitt Wallace Museum. Meanwhile Alasdair receives a call from home that someone stole a replica of the Dunsmore witch box from Blair Castle, where his firm provides security. Apparently Kelly Dingwall accidentally set off an alarm in the private section of the castle; during the turmoil the box was taken. Alasdair has suspicions that the alarm was deliberate because Kelly is the sister to Tim Dingwall, who along with his wife Sharon, are infamous for their views. When two murders occur, Williamsburg Detective Stephanie Venegas leads the inquiry, but reluctantly allows the out of towners to assist once she checks up on them.

This fascinating romantic police procedural works on two fronts. First the relationship that seemed so strong (see The Secret Portrait, The Murder Hole and The Burning Glass) seems to be unraveling with plenty of deep symbolism and metaphors in which readers will never look at a toothbrush or a hairbrush the same way. Second there is the investigation in which the local detective reluctantly allows the lead couple to help as the theft in Scotland seems tied to the homicides in Virginia. The forth entry is the charm for fans of the series.

Harriet Klausner