A Pine Barrens Mystery

By Andrew Seewald and Jacqueline Seewald

Five Star Cengage, August, 2013 ($25.95)

ISBN-13: 978-1-4328-2698-7

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Ariel Spencer is suffering torment from repressed memories involving her father's sudden death when she was a teenager. She has a sensitive, artistic temperament. Lately, her torment has been surfacing in the disturbing images she paints. She recently uprooted her family — a husband and two teenage sons — from their home in the suburbs of Philadelphia to live in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey where she grew up. She hopes the return will allow her to confront her past and trigger her suppressed memories. Her husband, Jon, believes she needs professional psychiatric support. Her 17-year-old son, Raven — or Rae, for short — is sensitive, like his mother and is said to have "the third eye." He attributes that as being more aware of his hunches than it being anything truly supernatural. Her 14-year-old son, Jim, is just entering high school and is worried about his mother but is also worried about fitting in at a new school and trying to dodge a fellow student called "Digger," who is the school bully.

It's the sort of rural environment where practically everyone is related to everyone else, if only as quite distant cousins or by marriage. There is an eeriness to the place and the people that the authors have developed quite well. It is a locale the reader will not soon forget.

When murder enters the picture, the evidence appears to implicate Ariel.

The authors have chosen to tell the story from Jim's perspective. He is new to the area, as is the reader. His insights keep the reader focused on the tasks at hand; unraveling Ariel's past and untangling the confusing dynamics that have resulted in Jim and his new friend Mary finding two dead bodies.

I enjoyed this book immensely!

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