This is the Gideon Stoltz mystery I’ve been waiting for.
The first two installments in the series, A Stranger Here Below (reviewed here) and Nighthawk’s Wing (reviewed here), were interesting and suspenseful in their own right, but Charles Fergus has pulled everything together in Lay This Body Down.
This third book sees Stoltz wrestling with the the issue of slavery, specifically free and formerly enslaved African Americans and those who wanted to see them in bondage. This is the first time that Fergus has connected in a significant way the happenings in the town of Adamant and the broader national context. Doing so made me more invested in the story–I think other readers will respond positively as well. I also appreciated the attention to historical detail and the inclusion of original sources (i.e., ads for enslaved runaways) at the beginning of each chapter.
One comment on character development: I really like the changes in Gideon Stoltz’s wife True. She easily could have just served as a prop, but for me, True has become the most interesting character in the series.
I’m looking forward to seeing where Fergus takes Gideon, True, and the other residents of Colerain County, Pennsylvania, next.
(Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)