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Daughters of the Stars
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Phyllis Whitney is a Grand Master of suspense novels. Unfortunately, this work is not her best effort. The story is only mildly interesting, and Anna Fields is just competent in her reading. Lacey Elliot knows nothing about her past, not her father's name, not even that she was born in Harper's Ferry. Her mother refuses to discuss it. But then a voice from the past begs for help. Lacey returns to her birthplace and finds herself embroiled in old mysteries, including that of her own father's murder. Whitney tries to tie the story to that of history's John Brown, but that only adds to the already convoluted plot. Fields has a tendency to overdramatize male voices. She is more successful with Egan, Lacey's little nephew. Her pedestrian reading only showcases the novel's weaknesses. Purchase only for demand.ÄJodi Israel, Norwood, MA

Once again thrusting her trademark likable heroine into a murky situation, this veteran author comes up with a better than average mystery/romance. After receiving an urgent letter, children's-book author Lacey Elliott rushes from her Virginia home to Harpers Ferry, W.Va., hoping to uncover the truth about her father's murder. She encounters an assortment of relatives: great-aunt Vinnie, who harbors a secret; grandfather Daniel, who was suspected of the murder; a half-sister, Caryl, and her young son Egan; great-grandmother Lacey; and Henry Elliot, her father's strange, drunkard brother. She also meets handsome history professor Ryan Pearce-their blossoming romance is chastely indicated by a few innocent kisses. The mystery is heightened by the presence of a few Civil War ghosts who ultimately shed light on the killing. Whitney depicts both the town itself and the raid conducted there by abolitionist John Brown (as narrated by one of the characters) with her customary attention to background details. Suspense fans will be caught up in this yarn's myriad plot twists, which culminate in a gratifying surprise ending. (Sept.)

YA‘A light, fast-paced mystery. Lacey returns to the town of her birth, Harper's Ferry, WV, and becomes involved in trying to learn who killed her father 30 years ago. The multifaceted plot is further enriched (and complicated) by flashbacks to the Civil War, as ancestors motivate contemporary characters' actions. (It's unfortunate that there's no family tree to help keep characters in their proper time period.) Only Lacey's personality is fully developed. Although keeping the time periods straight may challenge some readers, this quick read provides a look at Harper's Ferry's key role in the preliminary days of the Civil War.‘Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA

"Evocative, moving, suspenseful-another surefire winner from the writer who taught all of us how it should be done."-BARBARA MICHAELS

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