Hell With the Lid Blown Off: An Alafair Tucker Mystery
By: Donis Casey
Illustrated By: Rich Siegle
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: June 2014
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: July 5, 2014
Alafair Tucker’s family had many reasons to be thankful for their quaint life in Boynton, Oklahoma. In the summer of 1916 there were grandchildren on the way, a daughter getting ready to go study music, and everyone was enjoying the strong bond that only comes from a tight knit family. Everything was great but then a terrible storm rages through the area bringing with it a devastating tornado that rips through Boynton and the surrounding farms. In those few hours everyone’s courage is tested to the limit as each member of the family fights to make it through the destruction.
After the storm finally passes Alafair’s thoughts are instantly of her family’s safety and she waits for news about their well being. Not wanting to wait any longer Alafair’s husband and sons go searching for their family in the dead of night even when the destruction makes it extremely difficult to tell which direction they are going. Gee Dub Tucker was one of Alafair’s sons who went searching for anyone who needed help and in his searching he came upon Mr. Eichelberger, a neighboring farmer who looked as if he had seen a ghost. All he kept talking about was a dead body, so Gee Dub went to investigate and sure enough found a man dead, but he could not tell who it was. The only thing Gee Dub knew to do was take the body into town and let the undertaker have a look to see if the body could be identified. After Mr. Lee, the undertaker, took a look the body was identified as Jubal Beldon, a downright despicable person who made it a point to know everyone’s terrible secrets and then enjoy holding it over their heads. At first everyone assumes that he was killed in the storm and nobody really felt too bad about it until deeper investigation revealed that Jubal was dead even before the storm hit. So, now there were two possibilities for Jubal's death, one being an accident before the storm or murder.
Miz Beckie MacKenzie is a well respected music teacher in the town of Boynton, Oklahoma and her grandson Wallace is the absolute apple of her eye. She would do anything for him but when a terrible secret threatened to ruin Wallace’s life and place in society, Miz MacKenzie was not sure if she could ever look at her grandson the same way again. Jubal Beldon had gotten wind of this secret and found a perfect opportunity to make Wallace MacKenzie’s life absolutely miserable. Could this secret be enough motive for murder?
This book was an incredible thrill ride through an amazing array of characters and an unforgettable plot that had me on the edge of my seat. It has only been recently that I have started to pick up more and more mystery books and this story makes me want to pick up even more. The way that Donis Casey presents this story from the perspective of several different characters works brilliantly as the reader is allowed to see each person’s thoughts and with a mystery that allows the reader to feel that they are behind the scenes in a way, trying to piece together the clues just as the characters are. Then beyond that Casey lets the reader in but does not give anything away until the very end as a great mystery does. This story brings together a compelling setting and intriguing plot that completely had me hooked from beginning to end.
Quill says: An amazing roller coaster ride of a mystery that makes me want to go back to the shelf for more!