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The Bug Funeral by Sarah R. Shaber
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This book lives up to the promise of Shaber's first book, other than one minor proofreading error and one glaring research mistake--akin to the one about the Swastika in book two--but one that is more forgivable, because so many people in this world are ignorant.

Shaber has a Jewish Rabbi refer to the "wailing wall." This is the remaining section of the Western Wall of the second temple. It is the holiest site where Jews may pray. Some say it takes the name "wailing wall" because Jews go there to wail. Others, even more dysphemistically, say it is where Jews go to wail their grief at not being Christian, or to beg forgiveness for crucifying Christ. Had Shaber had a gentile speak the term, I would have cringed, but having it come from a rabbi made it another example of poor fact checking. Please, Ms. Shaber, spring for a decent copy editor.

I loved the ending to this book!! The entire plot was fresh and well handled. ( )
  kaulsu | Jun 13, 2016 |
Simon deals with a woman who thinks she is a reincarnation of a women who worked for a orphanage. He is horrorfied yet intreged and helps her solve the riddle of where these dreams come from.
Good tight story. ( )
  GammyL | Sep 20, 2006 |
Although he spends most of his time as a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Professor Simon Shaw also freelances as a "forensic historian." He has a track record looking into old mysteries, cold cases, using his research skills. In The Bug Funeral, he is approached by a friend to help a godchild discover why she has vivid memories of surreptitiously burying an infant's body a century earlier. Helen Williams has discarded all the reasonable explanations and has come to the conclusion she had been Annie Evans, a matron in a turn-of-the-century orphanage, in a previous life.

Not a believer in reincarnation, Professor Shaw thinks there's a simpler explanation -- the first that comes to his mind is mental illness. But his friend assures Simon the young woman is perfectly sane and troubled by her inability to find another explanation. The few colleagues in whom Professor Shaw confides believe he should stay away from this investigation -- that it will endanger his reputation as a serious scholar. But the bachelor professor sticks with it, partly because he is attracted to Helen, partly because he owes it to an old friend. The more he delves into the facts Helen knows, the more curious he becomes. It seems her facts are all verifiable but there is no apparent way she could have learned them -- short of being the reincarnation of Annie Evans. While checking into Helen's story, he crosses paths with a prominent area family with ties to the orphanage where Annie Evans worked.

I read Simon Said, Sarah Shaber's first Simon Shaw mystery, when it came out in 1997. I so enjoyed the story that for years, I looked -- unsuccessfully -- for more of the author's work. I gave up the search and so was very pleased to find The Bug Funeral among my books to review. I was also happy to learn there are two other entries in the Simon Shaw series: Snipe Hunt (2001) and Fugitive King (2002).

The Bug Funeral has just about everything a lover of cozy mysteries could ask for: a long-ago mystery to solve, an intellectual nice guy for a hero, unpretentious and solid writing, a plot that moves right along, and an ending that ties everything up. Readers who like non-stop action would probably be bored with The Bug Funeral, but the pacing is perfect for a cozy. The author explains The Bug Funeral title within the book -- it's an amusing if somewhat disturbing piece of the story. I can't wait to read the Simon Shaw mysteries I missed.

By Diana. First published in Mystery News, June-July 2004 edition. ( )
  NewsieQ | Aug 18, 2006 |
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Epigraph
Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really commonplaces of existence.
--Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson
Dedication
For my dear parents,
Frances Purvis Rock and Frank D. Rock, Sr.
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"I remember a past life," she said.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312322186, Hardcover)

Although there is a murder in Shaber's Bug Funeral, the bugs themselves aren't the victims. In the engaging series launched by Shaber's Malice-winning first novel, Simon Said, the author's amateur sleuth is a professor of history, particularly that of a relatively recent period. In each of the stories, Shaber has set her pleasant, somewhat bumbling and extremely likeable detective figuratively and often literally digging into a happening that could reveal its long-ago tale to him.

But even Simon finds is very reluctant to be involved in the current cry for help from a woman sent to him by a professor friend - a man whose judgment has always seemed before to be excellent. The woman, who amazes Simon by turning out to be intelligent, sophisticated and very attractive woman indeed, confesses that she believes she has murdered an infant in a past life. Although Simon is as skeptical and even scornful as any decent historian should be, the woman's nature herself convinces him to help her. With unexpected finds, and the story makes its way through a path of surprises to a most surprising - and thoroughly believable finish. It's a delightful and challenging game that Ms. Shaber has invited her readers to join; and they'll love it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:36 -0400)

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"Professor Simon Shaw never set out to be a detective. But when a colleague consulted him about an eighty-year-old murder, it spawned an intriguing, if not very profitable, sideline to teaching American history to a classroom peppered with wooden-eared college students. Now Simon is known as "the forensic historian" and beset with - well, offered from time to time - mysteries from long ago." "Helen Williams - or rather, her problem - is nothing like any of the puzzles Simon has ever faced. She claims not to believe in reincarnation, but since childhood she has suffered from flashes of a past life. In them she is a turn-of-the-century woman named Annie Evans, living in the city they're in now, Raleigh, North Carolina. Helen has kept notes on her "memories" of Annie Evans's life, including her work in an orphanage and the possible murder of an infant.". "Simon wants no part of this. What if word gets to his colleagues - or, heaven forbid, his students? He'd be the joke of the campus. But Helen is so genuinely troubled, so desperate for help - and such a charming young woman - and her godfather is, after all, Simon's friend. So, he takes her notes with a promise to read them and see if there's anything he can do." "But soon the need to get to the bottom of his puzzle takes over, because he begins to believe Helen is telling the truth - her truth - and that she's not hysterical. Besides, Simon, having broken with his last love, is taken with Helen Williams, regardless of a boyfriend somewhere in the background. What Simon and Helen find is so surprising, and yet so believable, that the reader finishes full of admiration for the way clever Simon has dodged a would-be-killer and solved his toughest case."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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