Sunday, September 16, 2007

Schlussel's Woman


by John Richard Lindermuth
(iUniverse / 0-595-29929-6 / October 2003 / 204 pages / $14.95)

Schlussel's Woman is a carefully composed and edited little murder mystery set in a small, pioneer town in Pennsylvania coal country in the 1800's. This historical fiction novel was written by a retired newspaper editor, and the maturity of its development is well displayed. John Lindermuth has obviously been a long-time student of the era of which he writes. The dialogue is reminiscent of the time and the characters are aptly drawn.

The plot surrounds Isaac Schlussel as he lies mortally wounded by a bullet in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania in 1830. The story is told in flashbacks through the early 1800's up to the time of the mysterious gunshot. Schlussel had been a greedy man of overt ambition and very little scruples. He had founded the town in which his gunpowder plant employed most of the residents and supplied the blasting force for the nearby mining operations. This carefully dated character study meticulously unfolds the life of a man many wanted to see in his grave. The mystery, which is aptly exposed in the final pages, is the question of who shot Schlussel and why. As in most every episode of Murder, She Wrote, practically every major character had a good reason to pull the trigger. It's up to the reader to ascertain the truth.

Mr. Lindermuth is a very professional, accomplished author. There are too many typos, of course, but they are definitively of the miniscule, missing-comma variety. The front cover of the book is elegantly designed and a pleasure to the eyes. Unfortunately, the pink text is carried over to the back cover, on which the all-important blurb is in pink text on a white background, and is therefore difficult to read. This may be a particularly poignant complaint, considering the geriatric age bracket of which this book should hold much appeal. Schlussel's Woman is not a book for impatient young whippersnappers. The mature plot and period dialect are intended to languish through the reader's mind like a slowly brewing pot of strong coffee headed for a boiling overflow. iUniverse and the other POD publishers need more authors like John Richard Lindermuth to improve their credibility. I hope St. Hubert's Stag, his next novel, is as good as this one. Look for a review here in the coming weeks.

See Also: Tabitha's B&N Review
Tabitha's Authors Den Review

Review of St. Hubert's Stag

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