An expert in investigating murders that occurred over the last century, forensic historian Simon Shaw, a University of North Carolina history professor, takes on the case of a young woman, the goddaughter of a friend, who is plagued by dark memories and the belief that in a past life she had committed infanticide. By the author of The Fugitive King. - (Baker & Taylor)
Professor Simon Shaw never set out to be a detective. But when a colleague consulted him about an eighty-year-old murder, it spawned an intriguing, if not very profitable, sideline to teaching American history to a classroom peppered with wooden-eared college students. Now Simon is known as "the forensic historian" and beset with - well, offered from time to time - mysteries from long ago.
Helen Williams - or rather, her problem - is nothing like any of the puzzles Simon has ever faced. She claims not to believe in reincarnation, but since childhood she has suffered from flashes of a past life. In them she is a turn-of-the-century woman named Annie Evans, living in the city they're in now, Raleigh, North Carolina. Helen has kept notes on her "memories" of Annie Evans's life, including her work in an orphanage and the possible murder of an infant.
Simon wants no part of this. What if word gets to his colleagues - or, heaven forbid, his students? He'd be the joke of the campus. But Helen is so genuinely troubled, so desperate for help - and such a charming young woman - and her godfather is, after all, Simon's friend. So, he takes her notes with a promise to read them and see if there's anything he can do.
But soon the need to get to the bottom of his puzzle takes over, because he begins to believe Helen is telling the truth - her truth - and that she's not hysterical. Besides, Simon, having broken with his last love, is taken with Helen Williams, regardless of a boyfriend somewhere in the background. What Simon and Helen find is so surprising, and yet so believable, that the reader finishes full of admiration for the way clever Simon has dodged a would-be-killer and solved his toughest case. - (Blackwell North Amer)
Although there is a murder in Shaber's Bug Funeral, the bugs themselves aren't the victims. In the engaging series launched by Shaber's Malice-winning first novel, Simon Said, the author's amateur sleuth is a professor of history, particularly that of a relatively recent period. In each of the stories, Shaber has set her pleasant, somewhat bumbling and extremely likeable detective figuratively and often literally digging into a happening that could reveal its long-ago tale to him. - (McMillan Palgrave)
But even Simon finds is very reluctant to be involved in the current cry for help from a woman sent to him by a professor friend - a man whose judgment has always seemed before to be excellent. The woman, who amazes Simon by turning out to be intelligent, sophisticated and very attractive woman indeed, confesses that she believes she has murdered an infant in a past life. Although Simon is as skeptical and even scornful as any decent historian should be, the woman's nature herself convinces him to help her. With unexpected finds, and the story makes its way through a path of surprises to a most surprising - and thoroughly believable finish. It's a delightful and challenging game that Ms. Shaber has invited her readers to join; and they'll love it.
Library Journal Reviews
Series sleuth Simon Shaw (The Fugitive King), now gaining some notoriety as a forensic historian, tackles a problematic case. A friend's goddaughter wants to know if her recurring flashbacks about a 1910 Raleigh woman refer to a real person. The most disturbing image is that of the woman burying a dead child: could she have been a murderer? Not a believer in reincarnation or even psychic phenomena, Simon discovers the truth of the matter by using his usual research methods. Realistic Southern settings, glimpses of small-college academic life, and the mundane realities of bachelorhood make for a pleasant, undemanding read. A cozy for larger collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.