“Delivering the Truth” is Edith Maxwell’s first title in her Quaker Midwife Mystery series. Rose Carroll, the midwife and our heroine, practices her vocation in 1888 Amesbury, Massachusetts, a time when most women are expected to become wives and mothers. But Rose is not most women.
As a midwife, she dispenses advice and checks on her patients, helps with both easy and difficult deliveries, and visits after the birth to make sure that everything is going well with the new moms. Not everyone approves of Rose’s chosen career path or her straightforward demeanor, but she is in a unique position to hear bits of information not often available to the police, given the intimacy of her relationship with her clients. Women share all kinds of revealing details at times like these.
When all of the major carriage factories in Amesbury burn down, over a dozen men are trapped inside the Parry factory and lose their lives. Arson is suspected, but who would do such a thing and why? Several of Rose’s clients are connected in some way to the carriage industry – Amesbury’s largest employer – and after seeing a shadowy figure in the wrong place, she seeks to learn the truth behind the suspicious fire. In the process, Rose places herself in danger and risks disapproval from those close to her.
There is more going on than arson in this cleverly plotted book. “Delivering the Truth” is packed with betrayals, jealousy, suspects who are wrongly accused, as well as Rose’s own budding romance with a charming doctor. Rose’s keen mind and sense of fairness carry us through the conflicts between class and culture, infidelity, and steadfast loyalty.
Through Rose’s discussions with real-life historical figure John Greenleaf Whittier – poet, abolitionist, and important to the Society of Friends – we gain insight into the inner workings of late 1800’s Quakers and their belief system at the time, including their support of equality between men and women and non-violence in the home. Rose has grown up with these ideals, and champions those who are treated otherwise.
Maxwell did a tremendous amount of research to get the details correct for the period. Along with interviews, discussions, and readings, she stayed at a living history center in Maine for 24 hours, learning about the work required for home life in the late 1800s. The result is that Maxwell transports us to the late 19th century in “Delivering the Truth” as we are immersed in the clothes, the cooking, societal restrictions, and expectations about women during that era. A gift of knitting needles has hand painted flowers and vines woven through Rose’s initials. What patience and skill it would take to create such small details on a knitting needle. Who knew that such a thing existed? One of the fun details introduces us to the Post Mistress who rides astride her horse, rather than side saddle, her bloomers ‘scandalously’ on display all the while. Marvelous tidbits that bring our history to life.
“Delivering the Truth” makes a highly successful foray into the past and entertains us with a wonderful new sleuth, Quaker midwife, Rose Carroll. Happily, the second in the series has just been published (April, 2017) and more books are planned.
Also happily, “Delivering the Truth” is a finalist in the Historical Mystery category of the Agatha Awards for this year’s Malice Domestic conference.
Read Edith Maxwell’s Author Profile here.
Please visit www.edithmaxwell.com for information about Edith Maxwell's other series as well as her short stories.