This is the first of a series of historical mysteries set in Bracebridge, Massachusetts in the 1760's. The main character is Charlotte Willett, a young widow in her 30's, and her neighbor Richard Longfellow, an eccentric older man who is well-read and prone to doing scientific experiments and such. In this first book, a wealthy merchant is observed bursting into flame in the middle of a country lane and whispers of witchcraft and devil worship begin circulating in this very conservative Puritan setting. Charlotte and Richard both believe something else is afoot and set out to prove that this was not a case of spontaneous human combustion nor witchcraft. A little slow to get started but once I got into it it became very interesting and a good read. Very "Sleepy Hollow-ish" feel to the book.
Action set in 1763. The French and Indian War has just ended. But then a wealthy stranger nearing a small village bursts into flames and disapperas. Widow Willett and gentleman farmer/scientist Longellow don't agree that its witchcraft and set out to unravel the dark doings going on around them.
One of the best things about this book, is that it is historical, but cant be outdated. For instance if you read a cozy set in the 1980s technology has really changed.
This book is set right after the French and Indian War, when what the USA was just colonies of England. It is outside of Boston. The sleuthing techniques are on par with the present day knowledge of science, and the main characters are creative, smart and likable.
There are many many characters beside the main leads, and even those characters are distinguishable from each other, and not in the modern technique of giving them quirky traits.
This book would appeal to those who love history or who are sick of the typical cozy stereo-types. This is a very talented and experienced writer, who can spin a story.