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Witch Cradle    by Kathleen Hills order for
Witch Cradle
by Kathleen Hills
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Kathleen Hill's third mystery is set in turbulent times in the United States, during the Korean War while McCarthyism ran rampant. Heading each chapter, a newspaper story pertinent to the times keeps the reader's mind focused on the era.

On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Constable John McIntyre discovers the skeletons of two bodies in an abandoned cistern. Since he has to police his own neighbors, the investigation of this discovery is dicey and unpleasant for him. Not to mention the fact that he has unexplained time in his own past that he'd rather no one know about.

This tightly woven plot moves along at a good clip, keeping the reader quickly turning pages. The characters are each unique in their own way and have flaws just as the rest of us have. But, here, some of the flaws are a little more than we would want to have to handle, including a promiscuous woman with an unrepaired harelip; a man who sells a program he doesn't believe in; and a woman who marries for revenge.

Communism rears its head at every turn. Also, as a consequence of the witch-hunt that occurred in this era, seeing communists hiding under every bush becomes an everyday occurrence. Witch Cradle is a well-written and researched story that grabs the reader and won't let go.

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