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.
A 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