Friday, February 10, 2012

Be Buried in the Rain by Barbara Michaels

If there's one thing I love, it's snuggling up in a warm robe with cookies and a hot drink while I read a romantic suspense book. One of my favorite authors is Barbara Mertz, whether she is writing as Elizabeth Peters or Barbara Michaels. When Mertz writes as Michaels, she includes a supernatural element. There's a mystery to solve, which the heroine does with the help of some ghostly guidance. I've been in the mood for something woo-wooish, so I've started to work my way through the Michaels books. This evening, I finished reading Be Buried in the Rain.

Julie Newcomb is a medical student whose grandmother has suffered a stroke. The relationship between Julie and her grandmother has been strained, basically because the grandmother, Martha, is a mean, old woman. What you might call a real bitch. Julie spent a few years of her childhood with her grandmother when Julie's mother was trying to get herself on her feet. The story starts with the discovery of some bones on a back road runn
ing by Martha's land. The discovery leads to Martha having a stroke. Now that Martha is incapacitated because of the stroke, cousin Matt talks Julie into spending the summer helping care for her grandmother. Of course, Martha lives in a huge old plantation style house in Virginia, so there's lots of room for action. Another wrench in the works is the inclusion of Alan, a former flame of Julie's who is doing some archaeological investigations on Martha's land. In the past, Martha caused a break-up between Alan and Julie, to give us the romantic tension in the book. So we have the perfect setup for some woo-woo thrills: the discovery of bones, a big, mysterious house, and romantic tension between the protagonists. Whose bones were in the road? Was it the mythical Lady Jocelyn, virginal maiden from the 1700s, or is it someone from more recent times?

The tension builds as Julie tries to figure out what is going on in the house and with Martha. The evil Joe Danner, resident handyman, and his down-trodden wife, Rosie, are suspects, especially after Rosie tries to poison Julie's adopted stray dog. Who can Julie trust? Cousin Matt,
 Alan? Is one of them trying to hurt her?

Michaels does an excellent job of building the tension, both mysterious and romantic. Of course, in the end, Julie solves it all with some psychic and romantic help. I really enjoyed the mystery and the romance in the book. I would highly recommend Be Buried in the Rain to anyone who likes a little bit of woo-woo and romance in their mystery.

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