First Line: "Well, it just doesn't seem right, that's all. Arresting somebody on Christmas Eve."
It's shaping up to be an interesting Christmas for Sheriff Spencer Arrowood, Deputy Joe LeDonne, and Nora Bonesteel. Arrowood and LeDonne find themselves on a very reluctant mission to arrest elderly J.D. Shull on a minor offense. Nora Bonesteel finds herself helping Floridian Shirley Haverty at the old Honeycutt house. It seems the Christmas tree keeps keeling over, and Shirley's heard stories about the house... and about Nora's gift of The Sight.
Sharyn McCrumb revisits her most beloved characters from her Ballad novels in Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past, and she does so in fine style. McCrumb's writing effortlessly imparts her knowledge of the heritage, customs, and language of the people who live in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. In fact she made me smile early on simply by using a phrase that I grew up with and haven't heard since I moved away: "as independent as a hog on ice." Many things can bring back memories of home. Language is one of them.
Sheriff Spencer Arrowood and Deputy Joe LeDonne's storyline is a bit of very enjoyable comic relief. Never underestimate the wiliness of an old man. On the other hand, Nora's task is a bit more serious, and it involves her knowledge that there is more to this world than the eye can see. Everything was going well at the old Honeycutt place. Shirley Haverty and her husband immediately started fixing up the neglected house that they intended to use as a summer home. It was only when they decided to stay for the winter and celebrate Christmas that life began to get truly interesting, and Nora's knowledge of the Christmas of 1943 will prove to be the key in bringing harmony back to the Haverty's house.
If you're already a fan of McCrumb's Ballad series, I know I'm singing to the choir. If you have yet to read one of those Ballad novels (the first is If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O), I urge you to read this novella. It's the perfect introduction to a marvelous series of books, and a wonderful little story in its own right.
Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past by Sharyn McCrumb
Abingdon Press © 2014
Hardcover, 160 pages
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.