Rattlesnake Hill

A Berkshire Hilltown Mystery

Fiction - Mystery - General
318 Pages
Reviewed on 01/15/2018
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Author Biography

Rattlesnake Hill is my “dark valentine” to the Berkshires, where I’ve lived for many years, first full-time, now part-time. For me the Berkshires have been and continue to be a source of inspiration. Yet while I appreciate the beauty and peace of the area, as a mystery writer, I’m drawn to its dark side. It’s that duality I’ve tried to capture in Rattlesnake Hill, the first book in a new series of Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries. Previously, I’ve written books about American history and biographies, one of which won an award. I’m also the author of three Miranda Lewis Living History Mysteries: Murder at Plimoth Plantation, Murder at Gettysburg, and Murder at Spouters Point. My short stories have appeared in various anthologies including Day of the Dark, Stories of Eclipse, and the Best New England Crime Stories series, published by Level Best Books, where I was a co-editor/co-publisher for six years. A member of Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime, I am Speakers Bureau Coordinator for the New England Chapter of SinC. I divide my time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires, where I write in a house overlooking a pond.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Rattlesnake Hill: A Berkshire Hilltown Mystery is a sleuth mystery novel written by Leslie Wheeler. Kathryn and her Aunt Kit had been planning on going on a family history research trip to New Nottingham, Massachusetts together. It would be a chance for them to bond and spend some time together again. Kathryn had loved her yearly two-week visits to Aunt Kit’s home in Hawaii until her grandmother put a stop to them when Kathryn was fourteen years old. Aunt Kit represented everything that her grandmother feared and disapproved of, and, after those visits ended, Kathryn’s life was regimented and joyless. Aunt Kit did come through with the funds to enable Kathryn to go off to college and experience some freedom when she had graduated from high school. Just a few months before their planned trip, however, Aunt Kit died, but Kathryn decided that she would take on her aunt’s quest for knowledge about the family legend of the Dark Lady. Her job as a curator allowed her the time to rent a house in New Nottingham, which Brandy, the realtor, seemed far too eager to rent to her. While the house was lovely and the grounds incomparably beautiful, Kathryn could sense there was something wrong, a feeling compounded by the booming of gunshots that seemed quite near. Her discovery later on that the present landlord’s wife, Diana, had been killed by a gunshot did nothing to ease Kathryn’s sense of wrongness and unease. Who had killed Diana and why? And just what was the story behind the Dark Lady?

Leslie Wheeler’s sleuth mystery novel, Rattlesnake Hill: A Berkshire Hilltown Mystery, is an enthralling mystery that blends the historical and present day as Kathryn’s efforts to solve her own family’s mystery get her involved in the current affairs of three intertwined families whose entangled pasts and hostilities are still very much alive. Wheeler’s researcher/sleuth is a grand character whose Aunt Kit seems to have thrown her one more life-line to help her shed the restrictions and fear her grandmother had instilled in her as she was growing up. In many ways, Rattlesnake Hill is a coming of age story as well as a novel of romantic suspense as Kathryn tries to choose between what is safe and known and what her heart and spirit need. Emily, the senior that Aunt Kit had established as her initial contact in New Nottingham, is also a marvelous character who bridges the past and present beautifully -- even if she does make Kathryn work quite hard for every bit of information she doles out. The setting in the natural beauty of the Berkshires is stunning and had me considering at least a visit if not relocation. Armchair detectives will also have a field day with this book as there’s any number of possible solutions to the twin mysteries posed therein. Rattlesnake Hill: A Berkshire Hilltown Mystery is most highly recommended.