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Burden of Memory Paperback – May 15, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Delany's fine second mystery (after 2005's Scare the Light Away) offers a breath of fresh air from north of the border. Soon after Elaine Benson agrees to assist Miss Moira Madison, who served with the Canadian Army Nursing Sisters during WWII, with her memoirs, Elaine learns that the first writer Moira hired drowned in the lake by Moira's summer "cottage" after less than a week on the job. Later, as members of the privileged Madison clan gather at the cottage in Ontario's Muskoka region for Thanksgiving, tensions mount, culminating in a fire. Elaine suspects that someone will go to great lengths to prevent Moira from revealing certain family secrets. The alternating rhythm of chapters of contemporary narrative and shorter sections of Moira's recollections of life as an army nurse helps build suspense. The striking setting, the picture of the Canadian social elite and several deftly handled subplots make for a richly textured and highly satisfying read. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

After a messy divorce, Elaine Benson thinks that a job helping wealthy Canadian matriarch Moira Madison with her memoirs might be just the thing to get her nonfiction writing career back on track. Unfortunately, she didn't bargain for Moira's contentious extended family--three generations of relatives full of harsh opinions and bitter resentments. The contemporary family story, viewed through Elaine's outsider perspective, alternates with Moira's disjointed recollections of being a nurse during World War II, when she meets the love of her life and learns a secret about her beloved brother that she guards long after his death. Although Moira and her household are distinctive, it's difficult to keep some of the numerous other supporting characters straight, and hints of mystery and the supernatural (Is there a ghost, or isn't there?) never expand into real suspense. Even so, readers who favor leisurely puzzles steeped in family dynamics and flavored with descriptions of beautiful scenery may find this just what they're looking for. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (June 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590584155
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590584156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,176,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Vicki Delany began her writing career as a Sunday writer: a single mother of three high-spirited daughters with a full-time job as a computer programmer. Sunday afternoon was - and at that, only now and again - the only time she had to spend all by herself, with a single candle on her desk for a bit of atmosphere, a Bruce Springsteen tape in the tape deck, and a nice cup of tea at her elbow. When she felt like really letting loose, the tea might have turned into a glass of wine.

The years passed, as they tend to do, and the three daughters, somewhat hesitantly, flew the coop, leaving Vicki more time to devote to her writing. She was able to write three novels of suspense, set in Ontario, two of which, Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory were published to critical acclaim by Poisoned Pen Press of Scottsdale, Arizona.

In 2007, Vicki took early retirement from her job as a systems analyst with a major bank and sold her house in Oakville, Ontario. At that time In the Shadow of the Glacier, the first book in a police procedural series set in the British Columbia Interior was published. After travelling around North America for a year with her dog, Shenzi, she bought a home in bucolic, rural Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she rarely wears a watch and can write whenever she feels like it.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Vicki was raised mostly in Ontario. As a young woman, fresh from quitting Carleton University in a huff in the middle of her final year, she travelled to South Africa where she promptly met a man, married him, and produced the aforesaid three daughters. Eleven years later, Vicki returned to Canada. Of her experiences in Africa she will only say that it gave her insight into to the politics of power and oppression that few Canadians get to experience.

Vicki majored in modern history at Carleton University, her interest more in the lives of ordinary women and men and the circumstances of their times than 'big men' and their wars. It was on a canoeing trip in Algonquin Park that Vicki, realizing that she was doing for fun what people in the past would have considered a hardship, told her trip mates stories about the incredible difficulties people endured in their attempts to get to the Klondike in search of gold, and the idea for a series of Klondike Gold Rush mysteries was set.

She writes in several different subgenres: Standalone novels of suspense (Scare the Light Away, Burden of Memory, MORE THAN SORROW from Poisoned Pen Press), traditionl village/police procedural (The Constable Molly Smith Series from PPP - latest, AMONG THE DEPARTED) and the lighthearted Klondike Gold Rush series (Gold Digger, Gold Fever, GOLD MOUNTAIN from Rendezvous Crime).

Vicki is a member of Crime Writers of Canada, and Capital Crime Writers, and is on the board of Wolfe Island's Scene of the Crime Mystery Festival.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PJ Coldren VINE VOICE on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Elaine Benson is picking up the pieces of her professional life by helping the rich, elderly, and very independent Moira Madison write her memoirs. Elaine is getting over a husband who left her for a bimbo, after convincing her to give up her own career as a historian in favor of his career as a possible screenwriter.

Moira Madison wants to write mostly about her experiences as A Canadian Army Nursing Sister in World War II, and then her experiences around the world after the War. BURDEN OF MEMORY switches back and forth between present day Canada on Lake Muskoka and Moira's various experiences in England, Africa, and Italy. It will come as no surprise to the average reader that events from the past will not stay there, and the repercussions will come close to destroying Moira's extended family.

One of Delany's skills lies in her writings about setting, about place. Her love of the more untamed areas of Canada shines throughout BURDEN, and she can bring the heat of northern Africa off the page just as eloquently. Delany's characters are very believable; she knows, or seems to know, so much about the mindset of the truly wealthy. Their seeming invulnerability to the harsh realities the rest of the world must deal with is clearly played out for us.

BURDEN OF MEMORY is Delany's second novel; this is not a series. Read this, and you'll likely want to track down SCARE THE LIGHT AWAY. Delany's sophomore effort is well done, and leaves no doubt about her talents as a mystery writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Elaine Benson wrote two highly regarded biographies of pioneer Canadian women when she fell in love and married. Her husband persuaded her that the money is in screenplays so they teamed up with Elaine doing the research. However, Elaine obtained a divorce and left Hollywood for Toronto and applied for the job of writing the true story of wealthy elderly Miss Moira Madison. She obtains the position, but learns that Donna Smithton had the job for one week before accidentally drowning in nearby Lake Muskoka.

Moira, as she prefers to be called, fears that the talented Elaine will uncover family secrets from the war days that she does not want revealed. Instead Moira prefers most of the bio to be concentrated on her work with the Canadian Army Nursing Sisters of World War II. However, Elaine, who moves into a nearby cottage, begins to uncover questions that link the so called accidental drowning by Donna to events during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Someone will kill to insure that certain secrets remain buried. She wonders if the man she recently met in Moira's home and is half in love with, Alan Manners, is behind the attempts to keep secrets hidden.

This is an interesting Canadian amateur sleuth thriller that works because Elaine is believable as she has the skills to analyze documents and uncover secrets. Her inquiries start off innocently but as she begins to comprehend what she is digging up, danger mounts and she ponders who to trust including those she cares about like her client and Alan. BURDEN OF MEMORY uses some flashbacks to tell the backdrop WWII story, but whether it is past or present Vicki Delaney provides a wonderful cozy.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JerseyGirl Yvonne VINE VOICE on May 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
This was a rather tedious mystery/paranormal story.

The story revolves around Elaine Benson, a struggling writer who needs a job and agrees to write a biography about Moira Madion, who was once a Canadian nurse in World War II in England.

The story moves from present day and to World War II as Moira recounts her life in World War II to Elaine.

Elaine has moved in with Moira and Moira's extended family in the wilds of Canada to complete the biography and through the inteview process, numerous family scandals unfold.

There are a number of mysteries about the previous biographer, who is found drowned under somewhat mysterious circumstances and there is a mystery in the woods surrounding the family compound.

There are a number of unanswered questions in the story which I thought led to an unsatisfactory read. The on-going smell of cloying perfume that Elaine smells in the woods, Ruth,the helpmate to Moira who can not stand Elaine, Moira's downright abusive behavior towards Ruth are all things that are thrown into the story in a hodge podge fashion and are really never explained.

This book does not recommend me to read another of the author's books but it is okay if you have nothing else to read.
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