Old Wounds (Gillian Adams Mysteries)

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9781890208257: Old Wounds (Gillian Adams Mysteries)

Historian Gillian Adams drops both her academic career in Vancouver and her plans to spend her sabbatical in London with policeman lover Edward in order to return to her childhood home up the Hudson and care for her aging mother whose heart is giving out. Gillian keeps her hand--and brain-- in with a light guest-lecturer load at sleepy rural Stanton College, a campus that seems serene but is soon unsettled by the murder of a student on a lonely stretch of road. It's a shocking act breaking the rural peace of the area. No less unnerving are the revelations that follow about the girl's double life and its implications for those known to Gillian since childhood. Facing both her past and her future as her mother's life moves towards its close, Gillian copes with the opening--and healing--of old wounds.
Canadian Kelly is the winner of the 1999 Arthur Ellis Best Novel Award for Old Wounds. Poisoned Pen Press will republish her three previous intelligent, complex crime novels with Gillian Adams: In the Shadow of King's ($14.95), set at Cambridge; Bad Chemistry (2000), set also at Cambridge; My Sister's Keeper (2000), moving to Vancouver's University of the Pacific.

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About the Author:

Nora Kelly was born in the United States in 1945. She has lived in London and Cambridge and now lives in Vancouver, Canada. She has written three crime novels featuring Gillian Adams.

Review:

The winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for the best Canadian mystery of 1999 is this fourth adventure of Vancouver historian Gillian Adams (Bad Chemistry, 1994, etc.), whose sabbatical in the Hudson River Valley already a meager substitute for another term in London with her CID lover begins with her discovery of a murdered student: one Nicole Bishop, who separately and together with Gillians ailing mother Estelle will pose ugly questions about some of her oldest friends.
--Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved

"Cozy mysteries are among the most difficult to write. To solve the mysteries the sleuth must obtain clues, which, in the case of an amateur sleuth, often depend on coincidences. To make these coincidences seem logical can be a difficult task.
Nora Kelly has cracked the code in Old Wounds. She neatly avoids all the usual pitfalls that often occur in a typical cozy. What, at first, appears to be propitious coincidences eventually have a logical explanation.
Gillian Adams has come home to a small town in New York on the Hudson River. She has taken a leave of absence from her job in the history department of the University of the Pacific after having received word that her aging mother has suffered a small stroke. Realizing she could not spend all her time baby-sitting her mother or it would drive them both crazy, she has accepted a part-time position at nearby Stanton College.
A few weeks after classes have resumed, one of the students in Gillian's class, Nicole Bishop, is found dead near Dee's Pond. At first, it is assumed Nicole was shot in a hunting accident, but an examination of her body reveals that she has been stabbed.
Gillian decides to help. Having grown up in the area, she knows the terrain well, in addition to being acquainted with many of the long time residents. Her mother is able to help her with details of relationships that weren't relevant to her as a child growing up. Gillian's love interest, an English cop, puts in a short appearance on his way to a conference in Washington, and is able to provide a knowledgeable outsider's opinion to the situation.
The most impressive aspect of Old Wounds is the careful plotting and attention to detail. Nora Kelly knows her craft well. At several points during my reading I thought, “Yes, but why does this character just happen to be here or choose to reveal this choice tidbit of information just now?” My skepticism was always answered with a logical explanation for the situation within the next few pages. A refreshing change from the obvious answer that in order for the plot to work, these coincidences had to occur!
The characters are beautifully developed with complex personalities. Gillian, my favorite, is smart and insightful. Her view on murder investigation is particularly interesting. She compares it to archeology, where the victim's past is excavated and carefully examined, robbing them of privacy. The added dimension of really getting to know the characters makes Old Wounds more than just a good mystery story.
Many times, the title of a book has little significance to the story as a whole. This is definitely not the case in Old Wounds. There is a close connection between the title and the outcome of the book and the use of the plural is particularly important.
This is the first work of Nora Kelly's that I have read, but I assume from references to past happenings in Gillian's life that Old Wounds is part of a continuing series starring Gillian and her English cop, Edward. The reader's understanding of Gillian and Edward is not hampered by not having read the previous entries in the series. The author cleverly sets the stage for their next adventure in the final pages of this one. Readers new to the series could easily find themselves looking forward to the next, if they aren't already out visiting bookstores looking for the earlier books.
--Andy Plonka, The Mystery Reader, 10/29/99"

"To fit reviewing deadlines, Nora Kelly’s 4th crime novel Old Wounds ($12.95) pubs in December. It’s a great gift book, per the review below, and I can say unreservedly it’s my first choice for future Mother’s Days.
“In a style that is reminiscent of both the campus novels of David Lodge and the literary mysteries of Amanda Cross, Nora Kelly brings us Old Wounds, a novel that’s acclaim brought it the 1999 Arthur Ellis Award for best novel. The fourth in a series featuring historian Gillian Adams, Old Wounds is truly academic in that the reader is left to interpret and devise the details at the novel’s end: Kelly challenges us to use our brains.
On a year’s sabbatical from the University of the Pacific Northwest, Gillian Adams has decided to return to her childhood home in upstate New York to care for her aging, failing mother. It is an opportunity to finish her book on marriage laws and write some academic articles. She has also arranged to teach a British history seminar to senior students at Stanton, a nearby women’s college. It seems an ideal way to spend a year—except for the fact that she is far from Edward, her Scotland Yard detective boyfriend, who was hoping she’d take her sabbatical alongside him in England.
Everything seems ideal indeed until one of Stanton’s students, Nicole Bishop, is found brutally murdered, lying face down in the mud just off the college track team’s local training route. Gillian, with her instinctive historian’s curiosity, is swept into the mystery of this girl’s death, not only because Nicole was one of her students but also because the murder suspects are people she has known since her childhood.
Kelly’s novel is full of clever dialogue and powerfully rendered exchanges. Literary and historical figures are cited and quoted, and in some cases, Kelly demands of her readers a more than superficial knowledge of these subjects. Given the academic setting of the novel, this works well and entices the reader to become deeply involved in the novel’s intricate play. Kelly’s mastery of dialogue also pulls the reader into the story, incorporating quick wit and genuine emotion; characters become multi-dimensional and etched into memory.
Kelly’ real coup, however, is her ability to capture the psychological elements present in a crime of passion. The murderer’s desperation and Gillian’s subsequent understanding of her own emotional growth through this taxing experience make Old Wounds more than a mystery—it is also a novel of intense personal exploration. And the fact that Kelly doesn’t feel the need to spell everything out for her readers suggests an inherent respect for their intelligence—and this is in itself the novel’s most refreshing characteristic.
Carolyn A. Van Der Meer, Université de Montréal, in The Mystery Review, vol. 8, No. 1, Fall 1999"

"After holding the chair of her school's history department for a year, Professor Gillian Adams plans to take a sabbatical. She wants to spend time in London with her significant other Edward. However during a break, Gillian returns home to assist her mother who recently broke her hip. Gillian is shocked at how fragile her mother has become. Because of a weak heart, Gillian figures her mother has little time left. She changes her plan to spend time in Upstate New York with her mother. Gillian accepts a teaching job at nearby Stanton College.
However, the serene upper Hudson turns deadly when two students find the corpse of a peer, Nicole Bishop, in Dee's Pond. It initially appears that a hunting accident occurred, but soon evidence surfaces that someone deliberately murdered Nicole. The police find a semi-nude picture of the victim inside the home of the town's weirdo. Witnesses place the eccentric individual at the crime scene. In spite of the mounting proof, Gillian feels the prime suspect is innocent because she knows him quite well. However, as Gillian investigates, the police arrest someone else, who Gillian also thinks is innocent.
OLD WOUNDS is a slow moving, pondering academic mystery that challenges readers with each twist and turn. Action is not a by-word associated with this tale. The story line allows the delightful characters to show their true disposition and motives that dictate much of their behavior. Reminiscent of Joanne Dobson's style of writing, Nora Kelly has provided fans of academic cozies with a pleasant novel.
Harriet Klausner, Copyright© 1999 BookBrowser. All rights reserved"

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