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4.3 out of 5 stars
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A Mischief in the Snow
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on February 15, 2001
In the winter of 1766 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Charlotte Willet goes ice skating on the nearby Musketaquid River. All by herself, Charlotte enjoys her time gliding on the frozen river until a thin section of ice cracks sending her into the freezing water. She manages to pull herself out of the icy water. However, Charlotte realizes that Boar Island, the home of two female hermits, is much closer than her house in Braceville. Realizing that only teenager Alexander Godwin visits the ladies when he delivers items to the isolated females, Charlotte prudently pays a visit on wealthy Catherine Knowles and her companion Magdalena. Charlotte finds her host strange, but kind.

Not too long after that, Charlotte's employee Lem Wainwright gets into a public spat with the obnoxious Alex, but nothing except threats occurs. However, soon Lem finds the murdered body of Alex. Lem is the obvious suspect having just had a fight with the victim just before his death and also having conveniently found the corpse. Charlotte, with the help of her neighbor Richard Longfellow, begins investigating who killed Alex.

The fourth entry in the Willet colonial mystery series, A MISCHIEF IN THE SNOW, is an entertaining entry that lives up to its well-written predecessors. The story line provides readers with an engaging who-done-it, several enchanting characters especially Charlotte, and a deep look into Colonial America outside the Boston area. Margaret Miles makes Massachusetts circa 1760s a fun place for readers to visit.

Harriet Klausner
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VINE VOICEon May 30, 2001
This the fourth in the series set in colonial Bracebridge, Massachusetts. It is the winter of 1766, and when Charlotte Willett, a widow of some standing within the village, goes skating, she falls through the ice near Boar Island. After managing to extricate herself from the water, the island's two eccentric elderly women take her in, warm her up, and dry her sodden clothing. While on Boar Island, she finds out that one of the villager's young men takes supplies to the two ladies, and that, other than those weekly supply runs, the two women live in isolation - apparently quite happily. Soon thereafter, the young man is killed. In the meantime, counterfeited shillings begin turning up in Boston and Bracebridge. When there is yet another death, Charlotte is convinced that the two deaths are somehow related, but she can't figure out why. And how do the counterfeit shilling fit into it? She and her neighbor, Richard Longfellow, investigate because neither trusts the drunken sheriff not to take the easy way out by accusing her young boarder who was seen arguing with the young man.
This is another excellent entry in this series. The characters are interesting and carefully drawn. The plot has enough twists and turns to satisfy any reader. Miles invokes colonial Massachusetts without letting the history interfere with the story. She writes so well you can feel the biting cold of a New England winter seep into your bones even if you are sitting in 80 degree weather.
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VINE VOICEon June 9, 2001
This the fourth in the series set in colonial Bracebridge, Massachusetts. It is the winter of 1766, and when Charlotte Willett goes skating, she falls through the ice near Boar Island. The island's two eccentric elderly women take her in, warm her up, and dry her sodden clothing. While on Boar Island, she finds out that one of the villager's young men takes supplies to the two ladies, and that, other than those weekly supply runs, the two women live in isolation - apparently quite happily. Soon thereafter, the young man is killed. In the meantime, counterfeited shillings begin turning up in Boston. When there is yet another death, Charlotte is convinced that the two deaths are somehow related, but she can't figure out why or whether the counterfeiting ring has anything to do with them. She and her neighbor investigate because neither trusts the drunk sheriff not to take the easy way out by accusing her young boarded who had been seen arguing with the young villager.
This is another excellent entry in this series. The characters are interesting and fully drawn. The plot has enough twists and turns to satisfy any reader. Miles invokes colonial Massachusetts without letting the history interfere with the story. She writes so well you can feel the biting cold of a New England winter seep into your bones even if you are sitting in 80 degree weather.
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on July 13, 2009
In Boston, the colonists are in full cry against the British imposition of the Stamp Act. In the seemingly peaceful village of Bracebridge, a brutal murder is committed during the village's annual ice-cutting party. Could the two events be related? In this story author Margaret Miles cleverly intertwines pre-revolution cultural and political concerns with a mystery surrounding the few remaining members of a wealthy village family. Her protagonist is inquisitive and intelligent Charlotte Willett, who, with her close friend and admirer Richard Longfellow, seeks to find the cause of the murder. This slow paced, wonderfully written story is enhanced by vivid descriptions of daily life, close attention to 18th century speech patterns and beliefs, and references to historical figures such as John Adams and Horace Walpole. It is the fourth in a series of Charlotte Willett mysteries set in colonial New England.
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on February 27, 2001
With a wry nod to Gothic literary tradition, Margaret Miles embarks on "A Mischief in the Snow," the fourth in her series of mysteries set in colonial New England. From the first scene, she draws us in with cinematic precision: a brooding Rhenish fortress sits atop the rocky desolation of Boar Island. Inhabitants of the nearby village of Bracebridge report seeing phanton figures cavorting in the mist along the shore. Sometimes, across the marshes, they claim to hear "spectral shouts and laughter" and the ghostly screams of hunted boars.
Miles continues to wink at the reader by introducing an actual Gothic novel, "The Castle of Otranto," which serves as a clever device for revealing the villagers' attitudes toward the supernatural. But the mystery enveloping Bracebridge is pure Miles, with her signature blend of historical, political, and scientific accuracy deftly brought to life through richly-developed characters.
Two myteries intertwine in this wintry outing, and Miles gracefully and confidently weaves them in and out of vivid scenes. Here is the young widow Charlotte Willett, strapping blades to her silk-and-feather lined boots and skating on thin ice, quite literally, as she falls into odd doings on the island. Here is her neighbor and friend Richard Longfellow, presiding over an ice-cutting at his pond--and inadvertently hosting a murder.
Suspicions abound. Is the drunken constable a mere bumbler or a rogue? Does the young fiddler's charming smile hide a nefarious nature? What is the real story of the two old crones living in the island castle? And is the murder connected to the recent disappearance of the village goodwives' silver?
As the mysteries deepen, so too does the relationship between Charlotte and Richard. They parry and thrust, conceal and disclose, join forces and strike off alone--and two intelligent and passionate people unsure of each other's feelings will do.
The myriad pleasures of spending time in Margaret Miles' fictional village of Bracebridge expand with every book. This is one of the few mysteries series that you'll want to read again and again. You may be tempted to race through to solve the increasingly complex and sophisticated puzzles. But you'll be equally rewarded by a second reading to savor the rich details of everyday life in colonial America, to eavesdrop on the social and political discussions in the local taverns and drawing rooms, and to enjoy the entertaining novel of manners.
So don't count on finding Bracebridge mysteries in your local used bookstore. These books are keepers.
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on April 10, 2001
I recently finished reading Frazier's Cold Mountain, Sontag's In America and Miles' Mischief in the Snow. I enjoyed all three in different ways. On my private "readability" scale, where story and syntax are paramount, the Miles' book and Frazer's finish ahead of Sontag's, although for literary inventiveness I'd rank In America first.
Miles continues to mature as a writer. Mischief in the Snow is her best yet, featuring not only a convincing, richly detailed Colonial setting and her usual smart plotting, but a deeper, richer character development than seen in the previous three Bracebridge mysteries (A Wicked Way to Burn, Too Soon for Flowers and No Rest for the Dove). Her principal characters, Richard Longfellow and Charlotte Willett, vivid enough in the earlier books, emerge here as more believeable than ever, flawed, complex and quite human.
Longfellow's scientific rationalism and accompanying dismissal of the supernatural are both gently kidded and thrown into contrast with what might or might not be supernatural elements in this story, although his modern point of view remains a key link between us and the very different world of Colonial Massachusettes. At the same time, Willett's reserve, so apparent in the earlier books, can be seen to start to crumble, and a warmer, even passionate, nature emerges. She seems both more drawn to Longfellow and at the same time more critical of him, more aware of his flaws and less impressed by his strengths. Richard, in turn, is more tender and caring of Charlotte than we have seen before.
The several references to characters and events in earlier books adds to the enjoyment for those who have read them, but this book, like the others, stands on its own. These engaging novels do not have to be read in the order in which they appeared.
This reader highly recommends Mischief in the Snow.
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on March 11, 2001
This Series Just Keeps Getting Better and Better! Each Bracebridge Mystery has taken place at a different time of year, enabling Margaret Miles to embellish her fictional village of Bracebridge, Massachusetts with delightful seasonal highlights. The most recent of her four books, "A Mischief in the Snow", wraps a most fascinating account of village life in the winter of 1766 around the intrigue of a breath-taking murder plot. From cover to cover, this book thoroughly entertained me. As I have found with all of these books, one part of me wanted to read quickly to follow the exciting and intriguing story line, while another part wanted to slow down and thoroughly soak up cozy old kitchens with freshly baked brown bread and warming fires. I absolutely loved Chapter 6, where she describes villagers gathering to watch blocks of ice being cut out of a frozen pond and loaded onto horse drawn wagons for delivery to ice houses. Women and children who have arrived on foot or by sleigh are setting out food and jugs of liquid refreshments. A young man is playing his violin for a group of villagers sitting by a roaring bonfire while skaters are racing by on blades of steel, antler or bone. But of course, in the wintry woods nearby, an event of a much more sinister nature is occurring and it isn't by any means the only evil or dishonest act that will occur in this village, where deception is in the air. And this is what keeps the reader turning those pages late into the night. I highly recommend "A Mischief in the Snow" to everyone. I also think that it would be an excellent addition to any reading list for students of American history. While Miles' books are extremely entertaining and readable, they are also very well written and historically accurate, making them perfect material for the classroom.
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on May 22, 2001
No Rest for the Doves was a fun read. I have read the other three books in this series, and this one was my favorite. I became immersed in the rich and wonderful details of colonial New England. It was truly a "who done it" and kept me turning pages when I should have been turning out the light. The protagonist, Charlotte Willett, is a woman to reckon with. She is smart . She is pretty. She can cook a delicous meal from an old hamhock hanging in a cold cellar, iceskate across a frozen river wearing heavy skirts and cloaks, milk cows and create chesses and coddled creams and carry on intelligent conversations with the most educated men. To top if off, she is always one step ahead of everyone else. I can't wait to find out what she does in the next book.
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on January 2, 2002
This is the second Bracebridge mystery I've read, and it will probably be the last. The historical detail in the books are fascinating; readers will pick up a lot of information about the politics of the day, what people wore, and how they lived. Still, the characters lack depth and are very predictable.
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