Merrimon Book Reviews

From Merrimon Book Reviews
The Bug Funeral 
(A Professor Simon Shaw Mystery)
The Bug Funeral by Sarah R. Shaber
by Sarah R. Shaber

Reincarnation mystery: North Carolina past and present
THE BUG FUNERAL by Sarah R. Shaber is a fast-paced intriguing cozy mystery. The amateur sleuth Simon Shaw looks back into the past to solve a current day problem. The North Carolina setting, past and present creates a wonderful backdrop for this mystery. Doctor Wade Ferrell approaches his friend Simon Shaw, a history professor at a small college in Raleigh, North Carolina with an unusual request. Helen Williams has memories of the life of a woman who lived at the turn of the century. In all other areas, her life is normal and she has been to psychologists and psychologists alike. Nothing can rid her of these memories. She feels she cannot marry her fiance until she knows the truth about whether she killed a baby in a past life of a woman named Annie Evans. Will Simon investigate? Simon figures he will put in a couple of hours of work, say he cannot find anything and then be done with her while satisfying his friend's request. There is just one problem --- the more he investigates history, the more credibility her memories have.

THE BUG FUNERAL captivates. The mystery and the atmosphere intrigue. The look at North Carolina now and in 1910 was beautifully written and opened up an earlier era for me. I had just never really thought before how it must have been like to live in my home state at that time. Readers will appreciate the familiar current day North Carolina landmarks and way of life. Whether it be the K & W cafeteria or mention of NC BBQ or mention of the Jewish, Cherokee and Baptist communities, Sarah R. Shaber transports her readers to North Carolina, past and present.

The sleuth, Helen and Annie Evans are wonderful characters that inspire the reader to unravel the mystery and get to know them. The reincarnation theme was done extremely well. Each chapter starts with a quote about reincarnation from from people and characters like Sherlock Holmes, Benjamin Franklin, Carl Jung, Socrates, Mark Twain, Henry Ford. Religious texts and ideas from different faiths are examined -- not in an academic way but in chapter quotes and dialogue that flow naturally. The mystery itself is quite heart-moving with definitely a surprise or two at the end. The tone is sweet and tender with a unique puzzle to solve. Goodness emanates from the characters and yet the puzzle hints at a darker side. I would definitely include THE BUG FUNERAL in my top mystery reads. This mystery has a nice Christmas touch. The Raleigh are descriptions made me homesick for my native state and add an extra dimension for any North Carolinian fan.

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur (May 2004)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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