Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Mystery of Hamlin Square-Chet Cunningham

The Mystery of Hamlin Square
Chet Cunningham
Five Star, Aug 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 1594146691

Cal Winters arrives in Hamlin Springs, Tennessee with no money. He obtains work at Hamlin’s General Store owned by ninety-three year old former U of T professor Madelyn Housefelter; she also provides him with a place to sleep. He hides from her and the other townsfolk his real reason for coming to this remote mountain village. His recently deceased grandma pleaded with him to learn what happened to his relatives who owned property here only to vanish without a trace in 1919.

Although the vanishing occurred eight decades, his name upsets several local people who know what happened back then and how they gained from it. Three men harass him and he is accused of setting two fires. However, he soon realizes one of the men giving him trouble is running a child porn operation. However Cal makes some progress on his quest, but will need cooperation from the leading families to solve what happened.

THE MYSTERY OF HAMLIN SQUARE is superb when the mystery focuses on Cal’s inquiries into what happened to his ancestors; when the plot tries to make Cal look guilty as an arsonist and his involvement in uncovering a child porn ring, it subtracts from the strong core tale of what occurred eighty years ago. Still this is an entertaining look at how the residents of a small town react to the stranger with the surname that haunts the founding families.

Harriet Klausner

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