Lynn: How’s this for, ahem, a killer premise? A young woman returns home after years away to discover that her mother lies buried within a wrought-iron cage. Try resisting that, I dare you! Salerni’s creepy premise is just the beginning of a terrifically compelling mystery and The Caged Graves (Clarion 2013) is the perfect book to wind up our celebration of Booklist’s Mystery Month.
Seventeen-year-old Verity Boone was sent away as a baby to be raised by her aunt after the death of her mother. It is now 1867 and Verity is returning from the bustling town of Worcester MA to the small farming town of Catawissa, Pennsylvania. She is excited to be coming home and to meet Nate, her future husband. Their marriage is an arranged one but Verity is content as Nate has been wooing her with sweet romantic letters and seems ideal. But things turn sour quickly as Verity’s father seems distant and uninterested in her, Nate awkward and quiet, is nothing like his letters, her cousin seems to hate her and the ladies of the town make nasty but puzzling remarks. And then there is the shocking discovery of the two graves of her mother and her aunt. Everyone seems to have a different story and the reasons range from grave robbers to witchcraft to a missing Revolutionary War treasure.
Verity sets out to discover the truth using her mother’s diaries, modern science, plenty of deductive logic and sheer persistence. Her efforts bring a charming young doctor into her life, uncover long-held secrets, turn the town upside down and put Verity into desperate danger. Salerni skillfully crafts a page-turner of story that is as much fascinating historical fiction and supernatural thriller as it is mystery. A charming romance adds a thoroughly unexpected twist to the tale as well.
In an author’s note Salerni relates that the book is based on her discovery of two actual caged graves in Catawissa, PA as well as other fascinating historical background. Totally unique and highly entertaining, this is a book that will please a wide audience – especially those looking for something just a little bit different. And maybe, just maybe, it will inspire a little research! Why ARE those real Catawissa graves in cages anyway????