Friday, September 6, 2013

An Accidental Life-Pamela Binnings Ewen

An Accidental Life

Pamela Binnings Ewen

B&H, Sep 1 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780805464320

In 1982 New Orleans, rival attorneys Rebecca Jacobs and Amalise Catoir feel good as they break the male only glass ceiling by becoming partners at Mangen & Morris law firm. However, Rebecca suddenly feels nauseous and decides she must make that call next week.

Meanwhile in nearby Getna, Rebecca’s husband, senior ADA Peter, finds himself working a horrifying case with powerful ethical issues and potential national legal impact. Teenager Glory Lynn Chasson went to the Alpha Woman’s Clinic in Metairie for an abortion, but claims she heard her baby cry and decided to keep her child; the staff told her the baby died. She claims a live-birth homicide occurred.

The sequel to Chasing the Wind focuses on two interesting issues: live-birth abortions and women breaking through the top management glass ceiling in the 1980s. Both subplots are well written, but the female rise to partnership pales next to the abortion issue. In fact the best part of the engaging storyline occurs at the clinic, in the Office of the DA and in the courtroom. Based on a real case, An Accidental Life raises the issue of abortion survivors who in some cases apparently are immediately executed.

Harriet Klausner

Graven Images-Eleanor Sullivan

Graven Images

Eleanor Sullivan

Yesteryear Press/Wyatt-MacKenzie, Sep 1 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781939288110

In 1833 the Separatists distrust outsiders staying at the hotel in their Zoar, Ohio village. Impoverished traveling artist Sebastian proves what the rigid leaders believe when they learn he has painted portraits of their girls. When the sinner is hung in a barn, the community rejects one of their members could be a killer; so they look outside and decide Irish tinker Egan killed Sebastian.

Midwife Adelaide Bechtmann does not accept the rationale that none of their pious people would violate God’s Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Instead she remains open-minded, but knows she must tread lightly on her inquiry into the death of the artist; as she recently angered her husband Benjamin and the leaders when she investigated the drowning of a teenager (see Cover Her Body).

The second Singular Village historical mystery is a superb nineteenth century amateur sleuth that brings to life the rigid Separatist community in which followers must fully adhere to all edicts. Adelaide is a wonderful protagonist as her conscience to learn the truth and her need to improve herself and her community battle with her desire to obey the sect's rules. Although readers will need to adjust to a horde of characters introduced rapidly at the beginning, this is a refreshing Americana whodunit.

Harriet Klausner