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PAST IMPERFECT

Past Imperfect

A seasoned fisherman of hardy Norwegian stock, Nels Bertelsen is found dead on his boat, apparently from a bee sting to which he was highly allergic. No one questions the tragic randomness of this accident except John McIntire, a retired military intelligence officer and now the new constable of St. Adele, Michigan, the hometown to which he has returned after thirty years abroad.

McIntire suspects that someone actually places the bees in the victim's clothing and replaced his vial of antidote with poison. Bertelsen was a hot-tempered man -- but had he picked one fight too many? As McIntire probes deeper into the victims life, a teenage girl is found strangled to death but her body disappears before McIntire arrives on the scene. The no-nonsense soldier gets busy reacquainting himself with Michigan's Upper Peninsula as well as the folks he grew up with . . . and discovers some buried secrets worth killing for.

REVIEWS

 

LIBRARY JOURNAL

After living 30 years or more in England, John McIntire returns to 1950s St. Adele, MI, where he takes on the job of constable. Usually lacking for significant cases, he finds his intellect challenged by the apparent accidental death (owing to an allergic reaction) of an old school chum on his fishing boat. Several details bother John, who begins an investigation even before the coroner concedes the possibility of murder. Crisp prose, fanciful plotting, and an emphasis on character, descriptive detail, and Scandinavian influence make this debut mystery well worth reading.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

 

BOSTON GLOBE

Hills, in Past Imperfect uses small-town Michigan in the 1950s to frame her story. A career military man returns to his childhood home to retire as the town constable. His boyhood chum dies, and as the constable looks into what appears to be an accidental death, he comes to suspect murder. The more he pokes and pries, the more secrets he discovers in the seemingly innocent town. This, too, sounds like a cliché, but Hills handles her plot beautifully, and she is particularly good at capturing speech, which is fitting for a retired speech pathologist. I look forward to more.

-Robin Winks

 

BOOKLIST

Former military intelligence agent John McIntire has returned home to rural St. Adele in Michigan's Upper Peninsula after a 30-year absence abroad. As an elected township constable, he investigates the death of his boyhood friend Nels Bertelsen, a hot-tempered man who has had altercations with many in the small community. Bertelsen, allergic to bees, appears to have died accidentally from a bee sting. Not satisfied with this explanation, McIntire probes deeper and finds himself investigating a murder, followed by a second even more grisly killing. The book is evocative of the Norwegian communities of the Upper Peninsula in the 1950s, with a lovingly described setting. An accomplished writing style, quirky secondary characters who come alive, and touches of humor enliven the story. McIntire is a complex character, slowly revealed over the course of the novel as a man trying to fit in again with people he's known for years while he uncovers secrets buried in their pasts. An impressive debut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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