Widow's Tears

July 28, 2014 - Widow's Tears (Susan Wittig Albert). A storm's a brewin', both literally and figuratively, in this entry in the series featuring herb shop owner China Bayles and her mystical business partner and friend, Ruby Wilcox.

This story centers largely on Ruby. She leaves her store in Pecan Springs, Texas and travels a couple hours away to visit Claire, a childhood friend. Claire recently inherited an odd-looking house that she hopes to turn into a bed and breakfast. But, mysterious forces are getting in the way. Claire hopes Ruby, who visited the house as a teenager years ago, can help her sort things out.

As soon as Ruby arrives, she gets caught up in the strange things that have been happening at the house. Car batteries go dead for no reason, flashlights won’t work, cell phones can't get a signal, pans hanging on the wall suddenly start to rattle. And, then, there's the ghost. Unless Ruby can figure out the increasingly urgent messages from the spirit world, her real world may be forever changed.

Albert successfully weaves together fact and fiction, past and present to create a compelling tale. China takes a back seat to Ruby, as Ruby's psychic gifts are the key to solving this mystery. But, the main character here is the Great Galveston Hurricane. In 1900, the massive storm devastated an entire city and left thousands of people dead. Albert describes the horror in vivid detail, which gives the characters she places in that setting an emotional impact well beyond the norm for characters that are not likely to recur. She also makes me want to read more about that real-life tragedy.