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The Doctor Digs a Grave    by Robin Hathaway order for
Doctor Digs a Grave
by Robin Hathaway
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 1999 (1998)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Doctor Digs a Grave is the winner of the St. Martin's / Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Contest. Dr. Fennimore is an amateur detective in this cozy mystery, cardiology being his day job. While I found it hard to picture Dr. Fennimore, as his age remained elusive, I fell in love with this quiet, gentle man. His sidekick (with the implausible but wonderful name of Horatio) and Dr. Fennimore meet over the grave of a cat. While burying the poor feline, they discover the freshly dug grave of a young woman. Curiously, she is buried in a sitting position.

So begins a story that winds it way through the lanes of the wealthy Main Line of Philadelphia, the streets and buildings of that city and the wilds of the Jersey Pine Barrens. We as readers are treated to the legends and culture of the Lenni Lenape Indians which are woven into the fabric of a well written mystery. Although I live in an area formerly populated by the Lenni Lanape tribes, I realized how little I knew about these Native Americans. I also found myself wishing that Mrs. Doyle, the receptionist and nurse in Dr. Fennimore's medical office, had more space in this story. I hope she has a stronger role in the next book of this new series. She's a hard headed, no nonsense type of woman with a soft spot in her heart for Dr. Fennimore.

While many suspects populate the tale, the actual culprit is not unveiled until the last pages. I had a favorite for the commission of the foul deed, but I was wrong! Overall I found The Doctor Digs a Grave a good book, tightly written with very likeable characters.

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