on 11 May 1999
In 1764, a smallpox epidemic spreads throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony, especially in Boston. In the village of Bracebridge, Richard Longfellow arranges for two females (his sisters Diana and Phoebe Morris) and a male (Lem Wainwright) to be inoculated by Dr. Benjamin Tucker. When he was in Europe, Richard was inoculated for the disease.
Like many Bostonians of wealth, David Pelham flees the city for a nearby village. In his case, he comes to Bracebridge where he obviously knows Benjamin and the two female patients. While the trio recovers from a milder form of the illness, someone murders Phoebe. Richard's neighbor Charlotte begins to investigate the killing. She quickly links Phoebe to David, but has no concrete evidence that he killed the victim. However, her suspicions of David rise further when Benjamin commits suicide. Still, proof is needed and David appears too clever to leave any shred of it around for Charlotte and Richard to find.
TOO SOON FOR FLOWERS, the second novel in the Bracebridge historical mystery series, is a superb Colonial who-done-it. The wealth of detail that makes the decade before the revolution seem so vivid to the reader. Like the previous novel, A WICKED WAY TO BURN, the murder mystery is entertaining, but the illumination on 1760's America makes the novel shine. The lead characters are fun to peruse as their relationship slowly forms. Sub-genre fans will go the extra mile to read the two novels of this series as Margaret Miles will become a household name.
on 18 June 1999
In this second of Margaret Miles' mysteries set in the New England village of Bracebridge, the characters gather "Decameron"-style to escape an outbreak of smallpox in Boston. In addition to the sensible Charlotte Willett and her neighbor Richard Longfellow, who were featured in "A Wicked Way to Burn," readers are treated to increased exposure to Richard's sister Diana. A shrewdly flirtatious vixen worthy of Jane Austen, she has agreed, after much cajoling, to travel to Bracebridge to receive and recuperate from a state-of-the-art smallpox inoculation. Her letters home to her Boston friends about the privations of such a dreary backwater sparkle with hilarious and revealing observations.
Not so humorous are the suicide and murder that arise from the confluence of these and other characters, including a down-at-the-heels doctor, a young woman from Concord affianced to a local lad, and a flamboyant adventurer with a secretive past. The stalwart English Captain Edmund Montague makes a return appearance, as do the Reverend Christian Rowe and a number of other colorful villagers. As if getting to know these characters were not pleasure enough, Ms. Miles provides a sterlingly-plotted mystery and rich historical context on the state of medicine, marriage, and the mores of 18th-century New England. This delightful combination of entertainment and erudition is sure to put Bracebridge on every mystery-lover's map.