A Stranger Here Below #CharlesFergus

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with reviews. I’ve read so many books and written so few reviews that my head is full, my blog has been sitting empty and Netgalley and Edelweiss are wondering what’s up. Please don’t hate me as I overload your feeds with extra reviews and too many comments on your blogs as I read and write my way through all that I’ve missed.

41Ri0iutn1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_amazonA Stranger Here Below is the first in what promises to be an intriguing historical mystery series set in early America. The series introduces us to Sheriff Gideon Stoltz, a man whose origins are Pennsylvania Dutch and who is still a bit of an outsider who speaks and acts differently from his fellow townsfolk. When the judge of the town commits suicide, Gideon cannot accept that any man would kill himself but especially not his friend, Judge Biddle. As Gideon discovers more about why the judge might have killed himself, his search for the truth becomes more dangerous to himself and those around him.

Fergus knows his history, has an incredible, intuitive feel for this region, the land and its people and it flows from each word in A Stranger Here Below. The prose is rich and atmospheric. Every detail, from the tools to the clothing, is impeccably accurate; I found myself immersed in the history of the tale and countryside. It took a bit of reading to get into the mystery itself. Perhaps it was because there was so much background needed to set to the proper stage for this era, rural Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. Perhaps it was the very simple writing as Gideon thought and spoke as any Pennsylvania Dutch would at the time. Regardless, I admit that I struggled with the slow pace in the beginning. As I grew accustomed to the writing, however, I liked the gentle flow of the words and the mystery itself began to build toward a rewarding conclusion.

This definitely is for a different type of reader, I won’t gloss over that. It’s not a thriller or suspense. It’s not a quick read or historical romance. My eighth-grade history teacher would have loved it and, most likely, she would have added it to an extra credit reading list – and I would have been the first one in line to sign up for it. If you’re a real American history fiend, then you will like this one, or, if you like slowly unfolding, atmospheric historical fiction you might enjoy it as well.

I received my copy from @Edelweiss and @SkyhorsePub

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12 thoughts on “A Stranger Here Below #CharlesFergus

    1. ROFLOL!!! Three of the books she made us read were Gone With the Wind ( I hated it) Sacajawea – it has over a thousand pages but I loved it! And, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Christopher, we were barely 13 years old. LOL!! Her class was intense. SHE was scary!! But I loved her to pieces and remember every word that she ever uttered!!!

      I have missed reading your reviews Christopher. I’m getting caught up – slowly but surely!!

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      1. Oh. My. Gosh. That’s one interesting lineup for a group of barely teenagers. Love that it was a positive experience for you, though! I feel like we ALL had a teacher like that at some point.

        I’ve been way behind in reading reviews as well, so I’ll be playing catch up this weekend!

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      2. It was a crazy time. I had some of the very worst teachers and some of the very best, but we all had that. Well, my kids were homeschooled so they only had one really whacked out crazy teacher – LOL!!

        Have a great time catching up this weekend. Hopefully you’ll get some quality reading in there as well.

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    1. It’s slow – I think I said that about a million times in the review, didn’t I? But somehow that really didn’t matter because it was so good. I think you might like it a lot Jonetta. If you read it, let me know what you think. It really was quite different.

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  1. Lovely review, Mackey. I think I’d have to be in the mood for this one although it does sound like it’s beautifully written. I do need to read more historical fiction. I’m reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee right now! I like it, but I feel like I should be taking notes– tons of information and hard to read truly just with the violence alone. Thanks for sharing this one! 😉

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    1. I hesitate to say this because it makes me sound really old, but did I tell you that Dee Brown came to my 8th grade history class when we were reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and spoke to us for two days? It was one of the most astounding, life changing experiences in my life. You know, to have grown up in the most backwoods state, I have met some of the greatest, most awe-inspiring people .Anyway, somewhere I have a photo. He was … well, no words. Just amazing.

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      1. She was the best – crazy mean, scared me to death and made me love history forever and ever!! She also was the first lesbian I had ever known, she eventually married my English teacher whom I also adored, and as soon as my very religious father found out, he tried to have her fired from the school. Oh wow!! Good thing the teacher loved me!! She absolutely was the best. I think if she could have raised Margaret Mitchell from the grave, she would have had her come to speak to us as well. LOL!!

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