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Fatal Remains by Eleanor Taylor Bland
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Fatal Remains (2003)

by Eleanor Taylor Bland

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The characters in this series are so strongly drawn that this is almost a cross between a police procedural and a cozy. One of the chief attractions of novels to me is good character development of people that I would like to know (well, mostly people that I would like to know). Bland does an excellent job of handling a fairly large cast of continuing characters, while making them distinct from one another. The characters have personal as well as professional lives, and this adds to the depth of the book and the intricacy of the plots. I am pleased to say that although they have their share of frustrations and struggles, the police are not all angst-ridden and alienated.

The stories also perform the tough trick of dealing with the gritty side of life, and the reality that not everyone can be saved, without becoming despondent. The main characters never stop fighting the good fight, which I find rather inspiring.

Marti MacAlister is a homicide detective in the fictional Chicago suburb of Lincoln Prairie (based on Waukegan, IL). When the series begins, Marti has been widowed for about 16 months and she and her two children are still trying to come to grips with the loss of husband and father. She previously worked in Chicago but left after the death of her husband Johnny, an uncover narcotics agent.

Her partner is Matthew "Vik" Jessenovik, who grew up in Lincoln Prairie, knows just about everyone, and mourns the changes as the town has grown. Vik is rather skeptical of the appropriateness of a woman being a homicide detective and is also leery of Marti's big-city background. He has a wife, children and grandchildren.

This particular installment has a fabulous story that seems to lack an ending. Bland has has woven together stories of the interactions of whites, African Americans and Native Americans in the 9th century that has ramifications in the early 21st. The stories merge in the plans of the descendents of an early white settler to sell their ancestral land. The details are fascinating.

The story in the 2ist century is also quite interesting. Unfortunately, it ends so abruptly that I felt there should have been at least one more chapter, if not several. It is never really clear what the motivations of the Smiths are. Or what their real history is. One may argue about how much a writer has to spell out, but their actions make no particulalr sense, except to move the plot along. Under the circumstances, why are they selling? Why involve outsiders? ( )
  juglicerr | Sep 8, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312300972, Hardcover)

When Marti MacAlister and her partner Matthew "Vik" Jessenovik respond to a report of skeletal remains found on a wooded piece of land, the pair has no idea it's just the first indication of a convoluted case of murder and conspiracy dating back hundreds of years. The skeleton turns out to be quite a mystery in itself, leading Native American groups and historians specializing in the Underground Railroad to flock to the site.

Unfortunately for all involved, the violence associated with the area is not confined to the distant past, and soon reports of mysterious accidents and suspicious deaths are coming in faster than Marti would like. A small contingent of locals even swears the land is haunted by a ghost intent on exacting a vicious revenge for some unknown grievance. Marti knows there must be a more traditional explanation, and it's her job to find out what it is. Eleanor Taylor Bland is at the top of her form in this taut, well-researched, suspenseful entry in her award-winning Marti MacAlister series.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:52 -0400)

"When Marti MacAlister and her partner, Matthew "Vik" Jessenovik, respond to a report of skeletal remains found on a wooded piece of land, the pair has no idea it's just the first indication of a convoluted case of murder and conspiracy dating back hundreds of years. The skeleton turns out to be quite a mystery in itself, causing Native American groups and historians specializing in the Underground Railroad to flock to the site." "Unfortunately for all involved, the violence associated with the area is not confined to the distant past, and soon reports of mysterious accidents and suspicious deaths are coming in faster than Marti would like. A small contingent of locals even swears a ghost intent on exacting a vicious revenge for some unknown grievance haunts the land. Marti knows there must be a more traditional explanation, and it's her job to find out what it is."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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