The Gripping Beast (St. Martin's Minotaur Mysteries)

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9780312979607: The Gripping Beast (St. Martin's Minotaur Mysteries)
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Isabel Garth chooses to ignore the warning of Thora Stromness's self-styled witch. Far north off the Scottish coast, the windswept Orkney Islands are fertile ground for superstition, with their mysterious rings, stone circles, and Viking graves. But her father's recent death in America only makes Isabel more determined to sketch the scenes that will illustrate his journal of a magical boy hood on Stormness.

Soon, a series of frightening accidents forces Isabel to admit that someone does want her gone--perhaps forever. Hidden on the Island is a fabulous Viking treasure, and too many people believe that Isabel knows where it is. When she stumbles upon a dead body, Isabel vows to find the killer. But the stark beauty that surrounds her hides the deadliest secret of all--and amid the craggy cliffs and crashing waves of Stromness, a killer is stalking his most innocent victim.

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About the Author:

MARGOT WADLEY is the 2000 winner of the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel Contest. She lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, and has traveled to the Orkney Islands.

From Publishers Weekly:

As the winner of the 2000 St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery contest, Wadley's work shows promise, but a reliance on contrivance and clich‚ suggests she's still learning the literary ropes. This debut novel's strengths include the unusual Orkney island setting and a sensitive heroine, Isabel Garth, a young American teacher who comes to Stromness to pay tribute to the memory of her late father, a native of the island, and find out what she can of his past. Straight off the ferry Isabel encounters the local "witch," Thora, who tells her: "There is danger for you here. I can feel it. Go home." After someone ransacks her hotel room, steals her drawings and tampers with her car brakes, Isabel has to wonder if she should heed Thora's warning. A buried Viking treasure (a gripping beast is a Viking art motif), a pregnancy Isabel may or may not terminate and, ultimately, Thora's murder all add to the brew of simmering menace (lines from Macbeth head each chapter). Unfortunately, while Wadley keeps the reader well attuned to her protagonist's feelings, her plotting doesn't rise much above the gothic romance level. When at the climax Isabel confronts Thora's killer, a natural disaster all too conveniently intervenes. The lack of topical references may convey a certain timelessness, but their absence also results in a story perhaps more old-fashioned than traditional. Still, there's no reason to think that Wadley can't do better next time.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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