- Mass Market Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Berkley (August 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425169979
- ISBN-13: 978-0425169971
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,821,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dumb Shall Sing Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1999
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The Amazon Book Review
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....The mystery is really more one of psychological suspense than traditional investigation, with a dark, moody feel and talk of evil and pacts with the devil. I enjoyed the way in which Catherine is able to use the townspeople's superstitions against them in an unexpected manner. ... I was continually interested, and all in all this was a good read. -- The Mystery Reader, October, 1999
Catherine Williams, a 50-year-old widow, works as a midwife in 1638 New England. A tolerant woman, she hopes for understanding and respect between the Pequot Indians and the settlers, something no one else seems to want. She even saved Massaquoit, a Pequot leader, from execution and took him into her home.
When a few-days-old infant she had delivered dies, she is called to testify. Grief has struck the baby''s mother dumb, but her husband accuses Margaret, their Irish Catholic serving girl, of murder. Catherine cannot believe Margaret harmed the infant and thinks that the accusations come from religious intolerance. She has her own suspicions about the infant''s death, but no proof. With the help of the reluctant Massaquoit, Catherine comes up with a way to cut through the bigotry and discover the tragic truth behind the death of the baby.
Reminiscent of Margaret Lawrence''s 18th-century Maine mysteries,THE DUMB SHALL SING paints a marvelous picture of the harsh realities of colonial life. Catherine is a strong and wise character and Massaquoit, keeping his own council, makes for an intriguing companion. -- Romantic Times, August, 1999
I'd like to recommend The Dumb Shall Sing by Stephen Lewis - the setting,colonial America, is vividly captured by the author who has strong characters, both men and women, and a mystery to boot! -- Poisoned Pen Guest Reviews, Reader Pamela Bigelow
From the Publisher
....Lewis has a keen eye for period details, not only in the physical attributes of Newbury, but in the frequently odd behavior of its citizenry. The enthusiastic rush of Newburyites to witness the cruel pillorying of a thief in this tale reminds me of how far entertainment has come in 400 years, while a pseudo-courtroom scene, managed by a narrow-minded governor and a wickedly intolerant minister, is particularly well executed....it is the courageous, 50-something Catherine Williams and the defiantly proud Massaquoit who are the principal draws here.
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Lewis says he loosely based Catherine on Anne Hutchinson, a charismatic religious leader whose unorthodox views resulted in her eventual exile from the Puritan community. Hutchinson's beliefs and her stance within Puritan society, however, were much more complex than are those of Catherine, who anachronistically is so much more forward thinking and enlightened than her fellow Puritans. Massaquoit's dignity and uprightness, too, seem a bit unreal. More interesting is his reluctance to forego his Indian way of life while understanding that his survival depends on his willingness to become "English." .
This is the first of Stephen's Catherine Williams New England mysteries. It opens with an "Explanatory Note" that helps set the historic stage for the narrative that follows.
We first see wealthy widow Catherine Williams on board the Good Hope. It's New England in 1638. The Pequot War has ended, and all the Pequot leaders are ready for "justice" on deck. Since the agreement the Puritan leaders of Newbury made was with Catherine's deceased husband, they think they can conveniently forget about it. Catherine deems otherwise and manages to save the life of one of the leaders, Massaquoit, who will now live with her.
Catherine is a well-respected midwife and healer in the community. When a healthy baby she recently delivered dies, she is called upon to testify. The baby's mother is struck dumb with grief, and the father accuses both Catherine and his Irish Catholic maid of having had part in the infant's demise. Catherine believes the maid to be innocent, "guilty" only of being Catholic, and she begins to work to find the real reason for the baby's death.
Lewis uses setting and characterization to good effect in this first book in the series. Seventeenth- century New England comes to life, and Catherine and Massaquoit make a good team of investigators. The only weakness I found in the book was that it was glaringly obvious to me what had happened to the baby. That one flaw aside, I found The Dumb Shall Sing to be a strong start to the series, which to date only contains three books. I'll be looking for the other two, The Blind in Darkness and The Sea Hath Spoken. Strong female characters in this time period should not be passed by!