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This Madness of the Heart (Miranda Lamden Mysteries) (Volume 1) Paperback – March 1, 2017
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"Evangelical religion, supernatural forces, and romance seldom collideunder a single cover and more often serve as individual topics in genrereads; but This Madness of the Heart combines all three forcesand more in a gripping piece that holds the rare ability to grasp andattract reader attention from more than one direction . . .
"The plot moves with the skill of a thriller, the stealth of a cat, and thefine-tuned precision of personalities well developed. The result is ablend of supernatural thriller, romance, and mystery that willthoroughly engross anyone looking to break free of genre reads with apowerful journey through competing spiritual perspectives."
~ Midwest Book Review ~ Diane Donovan, Editor and Senior Reviewer
"This Madness of the Heart is an adventurous and richly drawn mystery, with the age-old primalconflict between love and hate at its core. Vigorous and lively,engaging from beginning to end, with just enough supernatural spookiness to add a delicious chill! The lyrical poetry of Francisco's writing[communicates] the beauties of the Appalachian wild, and the warmth andstrength of its people, who are treated with respect and deep affectionby their author.
While Jarboe fits many of the nastieststereotypes of the fundamentalist preacher, others - particularly hisretired predecessor, Elmus Rooksby - show themselves as models ofwarmth, generous love, and human kindness.
Can Professor Miranda Lamden untangle the threads of a crime involving an old family curse, a secret religious fellowship, a business partnership gone sour, andfamily relationships embittered at their roots before it's too late?"
~ IndieReader Review -- 4 1/2 stars
"[Francisco] is an engaging writer, a fun narrative voice . . . great atestablishing setting and individual characters. The hints of paranormalphenomena are intriguing throughout . . . the mood combines gothic withthe present day, giving it a feeling of "True Detective" (first season), in which backwoods religion and real supernatural phenomena collide--aworld where anything can happen. Professor and paranormal investigatorMiranda Lamden is an exciting basis for a series . . . the rock throughit all."
~ Self Publishing Review -- 4 stars
"This Madness of the Heart is a wild ride through the dark hills of eastern Kentucky with MirandaLamden, a professor of religion who spends her spare time studyingarcane spiritual rituals--if not participating in them herself. [C. L.Francisco] fields an engaging cast of characters, and throughout sheweaves a haunting pattern spun of the Appalachian wilderness and itspeople. The plot twists kept me guessing, all the way to the verysatisfying ending. Fans of Joyce Carol Oates and Nevada Barr shouldrelish this new series, and I look forward to more--the sooner thebetter!
~ Kathleen Eagle, New York Times Bestselling author of Sunrise Song
"Kudos to [C. L. Francisco] for an absorbing read and an original thriller,with intriguing characters and hair-raising plot twists! ProtagonistMiranda Lamden particularly fascinated me. This Madness of the Heartexplores the genesis of hate and the power of forgiveness in a smallcollege town in eastern Kentucky's hill-country, where a hauntingspirituality--both Christian and pagan--drives this fast-flowing mystery to an electrifying close. But beware: pick it up and you won't be ableto put it down again--I couldn't!
~ Nancy McKenzie, award-winning author of Queen of Camelot
About the Author
C. L. Francisco (pen name Blair Yeatts) shares many qualities with Miranda Lamden: she’s a Kentucky native, but like Miranda her parents are Virginians; they’re both religion professors, and spirituality fascinates both. Spirituality is Francisco’s “normal,” and it makes her mysteries unique. They speak with Miranda’s voice, as a phenomenologist of religion—that is, someone who goes to great lengths to ignore her own beliefs and submerge herself in other cultures. Francisco studied phenomenology as part of her PhD in World Religions. The real events behind This Madness of the Heart offer a compelling reason for similarities. Francisco witnessed a denominational “war” with many of the same destructive results she describes in Madness, although the novel exaggerates and transforms them. She first wrote the book to vent her own anger and grief, which resulted in a protagonist much like herself. “But trying to read Madness’ original draft felt like Harry Potter opening the screaming book in the Hogwarts’ library,” she said. “My anger scorched the pages. I saw this at the time, and set it aside—for almost 20 years—until I could treat it as a mere story. Then I wrote out the anger, crafting a tale about a slimy religious charlatan in a haunted hollow in Appalachia.” Francisco is best known for her critically acclaimed series, Yeshua’s Cats, Christian historical fantasies told by cats acquainted with Jesus of Nazareth. Indie Reader chose both of her latest books, The Cats of Rekem and Cat Born to the Purple, for their “Best of” lists for 2015 and 2016. Unlike Cats, the Miranda Lamden Mysteries aren’t Christian. Miranda sees Christianity from the outside, as a woman alienated from her roots. But Francisco’s calm assurance of a universe undergirded by love is palpable, even in the horror flooding Miranda’s small college. Her struggle for meaning is the deep stream flowing beneath Madness’ treacherous rapids. “I write books I'd like to read," Francisco says, "and I’ve always loved mysteries—but not simple whodunits, or cozies. I enjoy watching realistic characters evolve. Since I think a series does that best, I chose to write a series . . . which has the added bonus of guaranteeing the sleuth's survival into the next book, and putting limits on possible disasters! The protagonist creates order from chaos, evil is vanquished (more or less), and life goes on, even if the ending is bittersweet. In fact, that’s not a bad description of the Miranda Lamden Mysteries."