This latest by J.R. Lindermuth is rich in atmosphere, filled with colorful characters (some quite engaging, others on the decidedly nasty side), and presents as nifty a set of mystery elements as any I've read in a good long while.
It is the third entry in Lindermuth's Sylvester Tilghman series—Sylvester being the sheriff of the small town of Arahpot in Jordan County, Pennsylvania, at the the turn of the twentieth century. Lindermuth paints the era and setting effectively, without slowing the pace of the story with too many period-piece details. Sylvester himself is a likable character, dogged at his job in spite of the various obstacles and distractions placed before him. Among the distractions in this particular case is an old girl friend who shows up and seems bent on re-kindling past feelings, regardless of her being married and Sylvester being thoroughly devoted to his somewhat elusive love, Lydia.
At the center of everything is the body of a prominent, recently deceased townswoman, stolen from the local funeral parlor just ahead of scheduled services. Add to that a crippling blizzard, a sudden string of strongarm robberies, a murder that may or may not be connected to the escalating tension of a looming strike at the local mine, and Sylvester's patience and crime-solving skills will be sorely tested before he manages to unravel everything.
This is all adeptly handled by Lindermuth's clean, uncluttered writing style, a sharp eye for characterization, his smooth way with plot twists. As a result, readers will be kept entertained and guessing right up to the end.