Horns Of A Dilemma
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Things seem comfortably routine that Ash Wednesday evening in the English village of Hollingthorpe--the regulars have come together to turn the Devil’s Stone, the age-old custom of shifting a one-ton boulder in the churchyard.  An odd, back-breaking custom that defies logic--except that to dispense with it always brings misfortune on the villagers during that year.  Yet within minutes of shifting the great boulder that evening misfortune--or someone--does strike.  One of the participants lies beside the stone, very dead and very bloody.

The CID Team from the Derbyshire Constabulary thinks that solving the case will be a snap.  After all, isn’t their boss, Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham, right there and a possible witness, one of the stone turning participants?  But things never seem to be that easy.  No one, evidently, has seen a thing, including Graham.  And those who might have observed the terror aren’t talking.   Is it fear, the particularly vicious attack, or murmured threats that keep everyone mum?

Detective-Sergeant Brenna Taylor and the others of the police team quickly become embroiled not only in the problems of the villagers but also in a web of deceit.  Is the halfwit brother of David Willett really mentally disturbed or merely putting on an act?  And why does murder seem to follow David from his home village (in Sainted Murder) here?  The owner of the hair salon has a history of domestic violence and hard time--could he be involved?  Or has a terrifying person from Graham’s past something to do with the deception?

The deceit is merely a feeling at first, nothing concrete that shouts of street corner drug sales or auto theft gangs.  But the atmosphere is there, behind the stated and implied gossip of the villagers, behind closed doors, arguments and avoided glances.  And it had begun long before the murdered stranger had moved in.

The disappearance of the vicar’s son hits DCI Graham particularly hard, for the vicar is a friend of his.  The boy’s absence could be just teen-age rebellion, of course, a night with a friend, but it hints at something more sinister.  Could it be linked somehow to the murder or to the Devil’s Stone turning?  Could the boy know something incriminating, leaving the killer no choice but to dispose of a potential witness?

The investigations seem to plod onward, giving the Murder Team no big clues until a red rose is found near the murder site.  When WPC MacMillan goes to the wood to investigate, she is attacked, left for dead, beaten in the same manner as the original murder.  Has she discovered something in the wood or close to the rose that identifies the killer?

In the midst of the murder and missing child investigations Brenna steals a few precious moments with her new boyfriend. Yet, even though their shared time is brief, it hints that they might have a future together, and Brenna begins to wean her emotions from Graham to focus on Adam. But in a midnight, rain-lashed forest, a heart-wrenching episode with Graham threatens to destroy her resolve. And through it all, the killer silently slips into and out of their lives, thumbing his nose at her and the entire CID team, ready to strike again.
Read A Review:

This British mystery begins on a normal Ash Wednesday evening in a village known as Hollingthorpe. A yearly occurrence of turning the Devil’s Stone brings the villagers together at the churchyard of St. Michaels and, as always, without incident they return to their quiet homes. However, normal is not what you would describe this particular evening. Next to the one ton turned stone lays a mysterious body – dead.

The CID team, from Derbyshire Constabulary, is called out to investigate this gruesome puzzle. What Detective Sergeant Brenna Taylor discovers is her boss Detective Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham being a part of this village, is also one of the observer who claims to have seen nothing as with the whole village. Within this investigation Brenna must hide her feelings for her boss, while Inspector Geoffrey Graham tries to understand this village as he was unaware of.

If that is not enough, while investigating a “rose” left at the crime scene, WPC MacMillian is attacked, beaten and left for dead in the same manner as the murdered victim. The Vicar’s son turns up missing leaving the question will he be found murdered as well. However, the team is relentless, refusing to tire or give up even with their own personal dilemmas to resolve.

If you enjoy British mysteries, their settings and surroundings, you will enjoy this book. And even if you have never read a British mystery, you’ll still enjoy this book. Horns Of A Dilemma is well written with vivid scenery and colorful characters, keeping the reader on their toes while awaiting for the mystery to reveal itself.

Skye Lindborg