Unholy Rites by Kay Stewart

Unholy Rites

byKay Stewart, Chris Bullock

Kobo ebook | March 12, 2013

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The third book in the Danutia Dranchuk mystery series reunites RCMP constable Danutia Dranchuk with her friend, drama critic Arthur Fairweather. Danutia is observing a youth rehabilitation program in England when Arthur returns to the Peak District to attend his mother’s funeral. Suspecting foul play in her death, Danutia and Arthur question the feuding village. They soon discover that the practice of ancient Celtic rituals persists and has evolved into a dangerous and deadly ceremony.

In a region with chilling reminders of child labour during the Industrial Revolution, Danutia must navigate a community with a complex and layered history. And, her personal and professional boundaries become blurred. When a child from the village is abducted, the race to save him leads Arthur into extreme danger. Only Danutia has a chance of rescuing both Arthur and the child from an “unholy rite.”

Title:Unholy RitesFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:March 12, 2013Publisher:TouchWood EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1927129834

ISBN - 13:9781927129838

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Secrets of an English Village Vancouver Island is an ocean away from the Peak District, but fertile crime territory for RMCP Constable Danutia Dranchuk and drama critic Arthur Fairweather. Arthur is back home in England attending to the death of his mother. Danutia is on a study visit, in particular Community Service Orders for juveniles. The pair are chalk and cheese, a prickly but caring partnership. They have arrived in time for the annual ceremonies of well dressing, which date to a Celtic heritage honouring the source of life. Seeds and leaves and flower petals are pressed into clay for an ephemeral but beautiful ceremony. Those who favour a Christian interpretation are disturbed by accompanying phallic games such as the maypole dance. Arthur’s mother has left disturbing scrapbooks dating to the “accidental” drowning of a young child several decades ago. She had suspicions about someone and mentioned to Arthur that she wanted to talk to Danutia about this situation. Now it’s too late. Mom had seemed faint at a Candlemas gathering, so a young boy was sent to walk her home to Well Cottage. A neighbour found her dead soon after. From a known heart condition or something more sinister? What about the herbs and naturopathic potions she took on trust from a friend? Was there an error in the dosage, an interaction with her normal meds? Did the boy do something? Impossible to tell now. Other than Arthur, who benefits from her will? In the face of memento mori , Arthur becomes less stubborn and more endearing. To Danutia’s consternation, he finds comfort in smoking his father’s old churchwarden pipe and as they search for answers, begins to see her in a more tender light. Danutia, on the brink of her first promotion, examines her life goals. Might they include Arthur, or is that preposterous? A romantic night spent together leaves her pleased and puzzled. But they both get busy and days go by. Then a car accident sidelines Arthur. The postcard village of Mill-on-Wye is shadowed by a sordid past involving child labour at the crumbling Monsal Mill, dating from the Industrial Revolution and a troublesome present. Local sheep mutilation under the full moon threatens to escalate. What of the sinister “triple death” practiced by the Celts? When one of the panels of grazing sheep is despoiled, is it a prank, or is someone sending a gruesome message? Do sinister roots lurk behind the pleasant faces and hospitality? Who is dossing down at the old mill? The village has a special meaning for Arthur, a return to his childhood and an illustration of how the “blessed isle” has been reinventing itself, as one villager says: That’s what happened when the trains shut down….the village dried up…with no railway to ship the stone, most of the quarries closed down and the workers moved away. Like a sleepy little ghost town….It was the well dressing as brought us back to life. Authors Stewart and Bullock took a summer off to hike the tors and trails to provide the graphic details that illuminate the narrative. Danutia’s fear of heights resets the bar as it becomes obvious that only she has the small size to enter a perilous cave during a crisis: The footpath led past a cottage and down a slope covered with scrub to a muddy footpath along the River Wye. Across the narrow gorge rose the forbidding limestone cliffs of Chee Tor, with ash trees crowding the base and clinging to the sides….Danutia felt her palms turn sweaty…. Suspects are everywhere. The herbalist, two warring ministers, the doctor, the publican, the woodworker, B and B chatelaines, and an assortment of wife beaters, thieves, and cheeky delinquents. Few lock their doors, but a serpent slithers by night as a country fair takes place and plastic ducks begin their wobbly race down the stream. Setting the book in 1997 to dovetail with the series preserves an innocence, keeping technology and forensics on a simpler level. The abduction of a child ramps the suspense into high gear as everyone joins the search in this hilly and precipitous terrain. Stakes couldn’t be higher when this thriller draws to a nail-biting duel with a cunning sociopath whose blood lust calls the plays.
Date published: 2013-01-25