John R. Lindermuth is perhaps best known for his series of contemporary crime novels featuring former police chief/now special investigator Dan “Sticks” Hetrick. He also writes a series of period piece mysteries featuring Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman. Both are set in Pennsylvania’s coal country, where Lindermuth lives and has deep historical interest.
SOMETHING SO DIVINE, a period piece set in the same area circa 1890s, is somewhat reminiscent of the Tilghman books. It is suspenseful, quietly building in intensity, multi-layered in its characterizations, and cleverly holds its mystery “twist” to the very end.
It is also a story of romance, the title coming from a poem featuring the line “Love is something so divine”. Actually, it is the story of two romances --- one that ends tragically, one that concludes with a promise for the future.
Lindermuth’s writing gets more polished and insightful with each outing, and seldom has it been on better display than in this novel. The many facets of a small town murder and how it touches so many different people, both prior to and in the aftermath --- all siphoned through the sensibilities of an out-of-town investigator --- are explored masterfully.
Without in any way diminishing my craving for a new “Sticks” mystery, I give this book a very strong recommendation.