Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Drop Edge of Yonder by Donis Casey

Title: The Drop Edge of Yonder
Author: Donis Casey
ISBN: 9781590585993
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press, 2009
Paperback, 217 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, #3 Alafair Tucker mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.

First Line: When I think about that day, Mama, here's what sticks in my mind.

One hot but pleasant evening in August 1914, a gunman ended a group's outing by killing Bill McBride, wounding Alafair Tucker's daughter, Mary, and kidnapping Bill's fiancee, Laura. Although the authorities are searching high and low for the bushwhacker, they can't seem to find him. As Mary recovers, a pall of sadness seems to hang over her, and her mother Alafair would do anything to put a smile on her daughter's face and to hear Mary's laughter.

Mary can't get rid of the idea that she has information that would help find her Uncle Bill's killer-- if only she could remember it-- but her head wound is slow to heal. She begins trying to find quiet spots away from everyone else, which drives her mother crazy. After all, the killer is still in the area.

Much of author Donis Casey's series (and her recipes) is based upon her own family history during the early days of Oklahoma. Life on a farm at the turn of the twentieth century is so wonderfully depicted that it reminds me of Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad novels set in Appalachia. The mother of twelve children, Alafair Tucker knows that the only reason why she's able to find the time to play detective is because the elder of her children are old enough to take care of their younger brothers and sisters as well as the house and the chores around the farm. Alafair is also lucky that the sheriff in Boynton has a relaxed and practical attitude towards her clue gathering:

"I don't know if it's just an accident or luck or what, but in the last couple of years, she's managed to find out things I couldn't that helped bring a couple of murderers to justice. I expect folks will tell her things they won't tell me, since she can't throw them in jail. But however she does it, I'm not too proud to stand back and see what she comes up with."

The mystery is a strong and interesting one in The Drop Edge of Yonder, especially since Alafair's daughter is in danger.  Each chapter begins with an excerpt from Mary's diary in which she writes everyday in an attempt to remember anything that may lead to the identity of her uncle's killer.

What impressed me the most in this book was the character of Alafair herself. While interacting with her daughter, Mary, and her youngest child, Grace, Alafair's behavior epitomizes the best in motherhood and can easily bring smiles or tears to a reader's face.

This series is one of my favorites, not only because of the plotting and characterization, but because the language and the setting reminds me of my own farming roots. If you're in the mood for an historical mystery series that sets you smack dab on farm wife/sleuth Alafair Tucker's porch for a chat and a glass of iced tea, look no further than Donis Casey's excellent books.


  1. I reviewed the fifth novel for the publisher and enjoyed it quite a lot. I will probably try some more of Casey´s stories (when I have worked my way through a bit of my TBR)

  2. I think I would like this series. I'll put it on my ever-growing list right now.

  3. I'll add my recommendation to your about this series, Cathy. I love Donis Casey's books and love Alafair and family. Like you, the series reminds me of farming roots, my grandmother's family in particular. My maternal grandparents were from Oklahoma and grew up in this time period. This is a great series!!

  4. Dorte-- I saw your review and was a teensy bit envious that you'd gotten an ARC. (Don't worry, I've already recovered!)

    Barbara-- I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it as much as I do.

    Kay-- It certainly is a great series!

  5. I find myself getting drawn more and more to books that take place in American history, although I'm not good at actually reading any of them (yet!). This one definitely has my interest, I'll have to look into the series. Thanks for a great review.


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