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The Dumb Shall Sing [Mass Market Paperback]

Stephen Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Aug 1999
The people of Newbury assume Mohawks killed old man Powell, but midwife Catherine Williams isn't so sure. So, she continues her rounds, gathering clues about the dark secrets -- murderous and otherwise -- that simmer beneath Newbury's Puritan piety.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Publishing Corporation,U.S. (1 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425169979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425169971
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.4 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,183,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars superb, intelligent colonial who-done-it 20 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In 1638 Newbury Bay in the American Colonies, the British Army massacres the Pequot Indians. The Governor drowns the few surviving captives except for their leader Massaquoit. The widow Catherine Williams, using the influence of the loan her late spouse provided the British, saves the Indian leader's life. Massaquoit objects because he wants to die with his tribesmen rather than be a slave, but has no say in his fate. The brief war leads to greater mistrust between the settlers and the natives.
Catherine learns that a baby died a few days after she helped deliver the child. The father accuses their Irish serving girl of committing murder while the mother remains in muted shock. Catherine thinks this is another case of prejudice, but needs to obtain proof that the serving girl is innocent. With the help of Massaquoit, Catherine begins her own investigation into the death of an infant.
Fans of colonial mysteries will gain much pleasure from Stephen Lewis' THE DUMB SHALL SING. The who-done-it aspects of the tale are entertaining while the novel depicts early seventeenth century Puritan life in the Massachusetts Colony. The fifty-year old Catherine is an intrepid character whose fight against prejudice of all types rings loud and true throughout the tale. The nearly silent, but extremely intelligent Massaquoit serves as a superb partner to the boisterous Catherine. The support cast adds the feel of the austerity of life in that era. Stephen Lewis provides historical mystery buffs with an arousing novel that deserves sequels.

Harriet Klausner
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb, intelligent colonial who-done-it 20 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In 1638 Newbury Bay in the American Colonies, the British Army massacres the Pequot Indians. The Governor drowns the few surviving captives except for their leader Massaquoit. The widow Catherine Williams, using the influence of the loan her late spouse provided the British, saves the Indian leader's life. Massaquoit objects because he wants to die with his tribesmen rather than be a slave, but has no say in his fate. The brief war leads to greater mistrust between the settlers and the natives.
Catherine learns that a baby died a few days after she helped deliver the child. The father accuses their Irish serving girl of committing murder while the mother remains in muted shock. Catherine thinks this is another case of prejudice, but needs to obtain proof that the serving girl is innocent. With the help of Massaquoit, Catherine begins her own investigation into the death of an infant.
Fans of colonial mysteries will gain much pleasure from Stephen Lewis' THE DUMB SHALL SING. The who-done-it aspects of the tale are entertaining while the novel depicts early seventeenth century Puritan life in the Massachusetts Colony. The fifty-year old Catherine is an intrepid character whose fight against prejudice of all types rings loud and true throughout the tale. The nearly silent, but extremely intelligent Massaquoit serves as a superb partner to the boisterous Catherine. The support cast adds the feel of the austerity of life in that era. Stephen Lewis provides historical mystery buffs with an arousing novel that deserves sequels.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 17th Century New England 13 July 2009
By Lyn Reese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the third colonial New England book we've reviewed whose main protagonist is a midwife! Catherine Williams, a respected, wealthy widow, serves as midwife to her Connecticut Puritan settlement just at the end of the 1637 Pequot War. Although the English and their Indian allies have subdued the Pequots through a bloody massacre, Catherine manages to save one, named Massaquoit. Over time their tentative master/servant relationship develops into a kind of mutual respect as they both try to establish the innocence of an Irish Catholic servant girl who has been accused of murder. Although the plot sometimes takes odd twists unrelated to the mystery, the book provides an authentic feel for the period through its use of 17th century language, and descriptions of the settlement's superstitions, rigid class and gender hierarchy, and sometimes unsettling violence.

Lewis says he loosely based Catherine on Anne Hutchinson, a charismatic religious leader whose unorthodox views resulted in her eventual exile from the Puritan community. Hutchinson's beliefs and her stance within Puritan society, however, were much more complex than are those of Catherine, who anachronistically is so much more forward thinking and enlightened than her fellow Puritans. Massaquoit's dignity and uprightness, too, seem a bit unreal. More interesting is his reluctance to forego his Indian way of life while understanding that his survival depends on his willingness to become "English." .

This is the first of Stephen's Catherine Williams New England mysteries. It opens with an "Explanatory Note" that helps set the historic stage for the narrative that follows.
4.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, from a not often seen period of history 11 Mar 2012
By mtang408 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, especially in that it is set in the early colonial days of America. I read a lot of historical fiction and was happy to have something different than a story set in England in the [insert century here] time frame. At first, I was a little leery of the book as it opens with shocking violence against native american people, however it probably rings true to the time and I just had to suck it up. I was more grateful than I can say that it didn't turn into a love story of any kind. I bought the second in the series and enjoyed that as well and just purchased the third. If you like a true, period mystery, I think you'll enjoy the book.
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid first entry in an intriguing series 17 Mar 2009
By Cathy G. Cole - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First Line: The sloop Good Hope, its crowned lion figurehead pointing to the sea, rode the outgoing tide past the mouth of Newbury Bay toward deeper waters whose color changed from light blue near shore to an almost midnight black.

We first see wealthy widow Catherine Williams on board the Good Hope. It's New England in 1638. The Pequot War has ended, and all the Pequot leaders are ready for "justice" on deck. Since the agreement the Puritan leaders of Newbury made was with Catherine's deceased husband, they think they can conveniently forget about it. Catherine deems otherwise and manages to save the life of one of the leaders, Massaquoit, who will now live with her.

Catherine is a well-respected midwife and healer in the community. When a healthy baby she recently delivered dies, she is called upon to testify. The baby's mother is struck dumb with grief, and the father accuses both Catherine and his Irish Catholic maid of having had part in the infant's demise. Catherine believes the maid to be innocent, "guilty" only of being Catholic, and she begins to work to find the real reason for the baby's death.

Lewis uses setting and characterization to good effect in this first book in the series. Seventeenth- century New England comes to life, and Catherine and Massaquoit make a good team of investigators. The only weakness I found in the book was that it was glaringly obvious to me what had happened to the baby. That one flaw aside, I found The Dumb Shall Sing to be a strong start to the series, which to date only contains three books. I'll be looking for the other two, The Blind in Darkness and The Sea Hath Spoken. Strong female characters in this time period should not be passed by!
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