The Mystery at Black Partridge Woods by Pat Camalliere

four stars

mysteryThe second installment in the Cora Tozzi Historical Mystery Series, The Mystery at Black Partridge Woods is an intriguing novel that combines two mysteries spanning two centuries in one engaging narrative. In the year 1817, we follow Wawetseka, a Potawatomi woman living in what is present-day Illinois, who discovers a dead body at the edge of her village. While this alone is alarming, the situation worsens when her only son is arrested, suspected of murdering the very victim Wawetseka discovered. The only way to prove her son’s innocence is to track down the real killer, causing her to start an investigation of her own, which leads her through the harsh wilderness, heading toward Fort Dearborn as she fights against the dangerous terrain. Two hundred years later, one of Wawetseka’s descendants, Nick Pokagon, teams up with Cora Tozzi, and her friends Cisco and Frannie to publish an account about Wawetseka’s journey. Shortly after Cora and company sign on to the project, they are viciously attacked by someone, or something, who doesn’t want Wawetseka’s story to be told. Readers are forced to wonder what this mystery from the past has to do with anything going on today, creating a suspenseful tale that is sure to keep the pages turning one after another.

By crafting a well-thought-out narrative that ties together two mysteries with unexpected parallels, Camalliere succeeds at entertaining readers with a suspenseful novel that will keep them guessing until the very end. Both timelines are well paced, and the characters are given a great deal of depth. It’s interesting to read about the northern Illinois wilderness present in Wawetseka’s story, and then see how the setting has changed over the centuries as we follow Cora around the streets of Lemont. Cora is a likable amateur sleuth, who uses her abilities and intelligence to try and crack the case, before it’s too late.

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