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The Blood Ballad: A Torie O’Shea Mystery    by Rett MacPherson order for
Blood Ballad
by Rett MacPherson
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Having previously written ten mysteries, popular author Rett MacPherson now offers up her newest installment in her successful Torie O'Shea mystery series, and MacPherson's dedicated corps of enthusiastic fans will not be disappointed.

Torie, as the harried mother of three energetic children, as the loving wife to a patient and understanding husband, and as a board member for the New Kassell, Missouri, historical society, is keenly interested in her family's and her hometown's history. However, Torie's typically happy-go-lucky though jam-packed daily routine is about to become severely overloaded and her patience severely tested when she joins forces with the fractious Eleanor Murdoch on New Kassell's 1st Annual 24-Hour Birdwatching Olympics.

While doggedly looking for and cataloging specific species of birds in New Kassell's nearby woods, Torie and Eleanor hear gunshots. When the gunshots are suddenly closer, Torie and Eleanor are convinced that they may be the targets. As they frantically run for cover, they have two more disturbing encounters, one which is merely annoying and the other which is downright terrifying: a frightened skunk and the dead body of a badly beaten man.

Torie uses her cell-phone to call Sheriff Mort Joachim, and soon the preliminary evidence suggests that the dead man was a shoe salesman from a neighboring town. Meanwhile, as if being shot at by someone, being sprayed by an agitated skunk, and being the first to discover a dead body aren't enough distractions for one day, Torie also finds herself being persistently confronted by a man who insists he has urgent information about Torie's late grandfather, a prominent regional musician.

With all of the foregoing occurring in the early scenes, the seemingly disparate threads of The Blood Ballad's plot are then adroitly woven together as the author serves up an intriguing and entertaining cozy mystery that is dominated by eccentric characters, old crimes, furtive passions, family secrets, musical history, desperate criminals, and an engaging amateur sleuth - Torie O'Shea.

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