Question of Devotion by Anita Kulina
Publisher: Brandt Street Press (November 8, 2016)
Category: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths
Tour Date: March & April, 2017
Available in: Print & ebook, 256 Pages
Then she saw it – a sheet of paper in the mailbox, underneath the mail. It was white with large black letters and said LEAVE IT ALONE.
Mrs. B has a quiet life, and she likes it that way. Morning pinochle games at St. Mary’s Senior Center. Afternoon lunches with Myrtle, Anne and Rose. Peaceful evenings with a cup of coffee and the classic movie channel.
But one day she wakes to a phone call, which leads to consequences she could never have foreseen. Secrets snowball and threaten to change the neighborhood of Burchfield forever. Someone has to make things right. It’s up to Mrs. B.
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Praise for Question of Devotion by Anita Kulina
“If you can picture Columbo when he’s retired, and spending more time in church and the kitchen, and Polish, and wearing a babushka, you have a sense of the down-home detective that Anita Kulina has created. I love Mrs. B!”-Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist and author of The Paris of Appalachia
“A Question of Devotion is a comforting snapshot of an aging population, where the way of life is still bound by churches, neighborhoods, and countries of origin. Its heroine, Mrs. B, is not just an old woman living out her twilight years at the senior center, but an able detective engaged in solving a mystery as cozy as cocoa and afghans on a cold Western Pennsylvania day.”-Kathryn Miller Haines, author of the Rosie Winter Mysteries and the Iris Anderson Mysteries
My Review: (LAWonder10)
There at two main dilemmas which arise in the small town of Burchfield, Illinois…The community’s historical Catholic Church is on the list to close and sell…A crime has been committed and Mrs. B’s friend’s son is accused! Mrs. B agreed to try to prove his innocence but what can she do? Is he truly innocent?
The story “flows” well, the characters are endearing, and scenes are described well.
The author covers these two situations plus adds an additional twist, by including the new neighbors. This is quite well-written, and a relaxing read. T Book Cover depicts the story well and is eye-catching. The Title “fits” but, I feel, a better one could have been applied to this book.
*This book was gifted me. I am not required to post a positive review. Ths is my honest review.
How Does Miss Marple Solve Crimes That Baffle the Police?
Okay, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple is smart. She’s proved that to us over and over again. But is being smart all an old lady needs to solve a crime? Or are there more factors at play?
Inspector Craddock or Inspector Slack (or the constable du jour) enters the crime scene with a task in front of him. Each of them has a job to do, and to do it well he has a specific method he follows. Inspector Craddock adheres to traditional police procedures. Looking at suspects carefully. Examining everything with a close eye. Inspector Slack needs to be swift, and he needs to be certain. No room for error. No room for doubt. He can’t go back to his boss months from now and say he’s still working on it.
Miss Marple, on the other hand, examines the same crime from an armchair in her parlor. She’s farther away. And what do you have when you’re farther away? Perspective. Her broad perspective, ironically, allows her to see details that the Inspector Craddock, with all his careful, studious scrutiny, can’t see at all.
In addition to perspective, Miss Marple has time. For her, time is, as Thoreau might have said, the stream she goes a-fishing in. Her days are open-ended, and she can fill them as she likes. She doesn’t have to type reports, or scurry to interview one suspect after the other, as Inspector Slack does. No, Miss Marple may be of modest means, but she has one luxury – leisure. Rest brings a quiet mind, a mind open to possibility. We all know if we let ourselves rest, even for a brief time, that’s when we remember where we put our keys, or that we forgot to take that letter to the post office. The mind’s a tricky devil. It won’t always obey us, but if we ignore it, it will often give us exactly what we’re looking for.
Inextricably bound together in Miss Marple are her age and her interest in what goes on around her. Miss Marple has lived a long time. From the outside, some might say that her long life was dull, but we readers know better. Those seemingly insignificant incidents she remembers at the right moment – the ring stolen by a neighbor’s servant, a plain young woman betrayed by a handsome cad – were the mainstay of her days. We know that because she remembers them. She can recall these everyday occurrences, these things others would have forgotten, and she recalls them easily, with great detail. Why? Because she thought these stories would someday help her to identify elusive killers and bring them to justice? No, she remembers them because they were important to her. They spiced up her quiet life. They gave her days color and character and meaning.
I don’t want to discount the fact that Miss Marple is smart. She is smart, and she’s proven that. She doesn’t flaunt it, which makes perfect sense in the context of the times, even in the later novels. It wasn’t all that long ago when women were encouraged to be nurses rather than doctors, teachers rather than professors. It wasn’t socially acceptable in that too-recent past for a woman to be smarter than a man. It wasn’t considered feminine. Miss Marple is a traditionalist. She doesn’t have any aspirations toward being a “modern” woman. Yet she’s confident, she knows who she is and when she’s right. That’s what we love about her.
In A Question of Devotion, my new mystery from Brandt Street Press, Mrs. B solves a mystery in her hometown of Burchfield. Mrs. B isn’t a lot like Miss Marple, but she isn’t a lot unlike her, either. Mrs. B was married many years ago, and she’s a widow now. She has two children but they both live thousands of miles away. Her hometown of Burchfield is a neighborhood in a big city, rather than a village in the countryside. Mrs. B has a bit of a social life at the Senior Center at St. Mary’s Church, and she likes to watch television, especially the classic movie channel. We’d never see Miss Marple doing that!
But like Miss Marple, Mrs. B lives quietly in a small house of modest means. The church fair, a Christmas party, the little girl across the street, these simple things hold great importance in her life. Mrs. B loves Burchfield, and she knows her neighborhood, and her neighbors, inside and out.
Like Miss Marple, when Mrs. B solves a case, her neighbors might be a bit surprised. Mrs. B may be only a little old lady, but when it comes to crime, it turns out she has a few tricks up her ruffled sleeve!
About Anita Kulina
Like most people who love to write, Anita Kulina has been telling stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Her first publication was in the letters-to-the-editor column of Adventure Comics #341. Nowadays, much of her work centers on the rich and colorful lives of Pittsburgh’s working poor. Since Anita spent much of her life in those ranks, it’s a subject dear to her heart.
Her book Millhunks and Renegades won her the Achievement in Literature award from the community of Hazelwood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is currently at work on the next two Mrs. B books.
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