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Signs in the Blood

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Elizabeth Goodweather and her husband built a rewarding life in the hills and hollows of their adopted Appalachian home. But now Elizabeth is alone, her husband tragically killed, her children grown, the land around her filled with customs and beliefs she cannot share. It’s still a good life–tending the small herb and flower business–but Elizabeth’s fragile peace is about Elizabeth Goodweather and her husband built a rewarding life in the hills and hollows of their adopted Appalachian home. But now Elizabeth is alone, her husband tragically killed, her children grown, the land around her filled with customs and beliefs she cannot share. It’s still a good life–tending the small herb and flower business–but Elizabeth’s fragile peace is about to be shattered. Cletus Gentry vanished while hunting ginseng in the hills–and his mother is sure the childlike man was murdered. As Elizabeth retraces Cletus’s last wanderings, she will discover that a killer has been waiting all the while in the coves and hollows near her farm for her to see the light…and then come willingly to her own death. From the Paperback edition.


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Elizabeth Goodweather and her husband built a rewarding life in the hills and hollows of their adopted Appalachian home. But now Elizabeth is alone, her husband tragically killed, her children grown, the land around her filled with customs and beliefs she cannot share. It’s still a good life–tending the small herb and flower business–but Elizabeth’s fragile peace is about Elizabeth Goodweather and her husband built a rewarding life in the hills and hollows of their adopted Appalachian home. But now Elizabeth is alone, her husband tragically killed, her children grown, the land around her filled with customs and beliefs she cannot share. It’s still a good life–tending the small herb and flower business–but Elizabeth’s fragile peace is about to be shattered. Cletus Gentry vanished while hunting ginseng in the hills–and his mother is sure the childlike man was murdered. As Elizabeth retraces Cletus’s last wanderings, she will discover that a killer has been waiting all the while in the coves and hollows near her farm for her to see the light…and then come willingly to her own death. From the Paperback edition.

30 review for Signs in the Blood

  1. 4 out of 5

    April Loebick

    Vicki Lane’s Signs in the Blood is the first book of several that follows Elizabeth Goodweather, a middle-aged woman who is a transplant to Appalachian life. She lives a relatively content and peaceful life until after her husband dies in a plane crash. In Signs of the Blood, she becomes an amateur detective who investigates the death of her friend’s son, a “simple” man by the name of Cletus. Cletus is found dead in a river, though he had a strong fear of water. The Sheriff writes it off as an a Vicki Lane’s Signs in the Blood is the first book of several that follows Elizabeth Goodweather, a middle-aged woman who is a transplant to Appalachian life. She lives a relatively content and peaceful life until after her husband dies in a plane crash. In Signs of the Blood, she becomes an amateur detective who investigates the death of her friend’s son, a “simple” man by the name of Cletus. Cletus is found dead in a river, though he had a strong fear of water. The Sheriff writes it off as an accidental drowning, but his mother, Birdie, isn’t satisfied, and asks Elizabeth for help. Elizabeth’s investigation leads her to discover the underbelly of secluded mountain communities. There’s crazy right-wing militias, a cult compound, a snake-handling church, and more. While it may seem a bit much in this description, Lane makes it work. The situation doesn’t seem absurd and over-crazified. At first, I wasn’t sure about the pace of the book, but it really picks up and becomes really interesting really fast. The descriptions are gorgeous, and being a southern-Appalachian girl myself, it invoked thoughts of home. It’s probably not a book for everyone, but people who like mysteries or Appalachian Lit should definitely check it out.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leah Weiss

    What a great Appalachian read and the first in a series of five Elizabeth Goodweather books! I loved the gorgeous mountain setting, the transitioning Elizabeth, the kooky (lovable and frightening) characters and the mounting mysteries. My only criticism is that the pieces being tied together at the end seemed to spiral almost out of control - like overeating at a buffet. But that said, I will certainly be reading the next installment! I am a Goodweather fan!

  3. 4 out of 5

    LeeAnne

    I picked up this book because I Appalachian folklore. This mystery contains a story within a story and bounces back and forth between the early 20th century and today. I found the story of Little Sylvie to be the most compelling part of the book and it is what kept me plugging along. The "current" story was just sort of blah. In fact, there were two or three story lines that more or less got resolved in a fumbling sort of way. Having said all that, I think that Vicki Lane is a good writer and a g I picked up this book because I Appalachian folklore. This mystery contains a story within a story and bounces back and forth between the early 20th century and today. I found the story of Little Sylvie to be the most compelling part of the book and it is what kept me plugging along. The "current" story was just sort of blah. In fact, there were two or three story lines that more or less got resolved in a fumbling sort of way. Having said all that, I think that Vicki Lane is a good writer and a good story teller. "Signs in the Blood" reads like a first novel, one that contains enough for two or three novels but crams it all into one in case a second book doesn't happen. I definitely enjoyed this book enough to read the second one and I would recommend it to others with the caution that it tends to wander a bit.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    I expected this to be first-rate. It wasn't. The characters, plot, and the writing are adequate but lack the complexity and sophistication of professional handling. The dialect of the mountain folk seems overdone and inauthentic. The author is at her best when she's telling the tale of Little Sylvie, the young mountain girl who lived on the land generations before and whose story echoes the current action. I expected this to be first-rate. It wasn't. The characters, plot, and the writing are adequate but lack the complexity and sophistication of professional handling. The dialect of the mountain folk seems overdone and inauthentic. The author is at her best when she's telling the tale of Little Sylvie, the young mountain girl who lived on the land generations before and whose story echoes the current action.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Great traditional mystery set in Appalachia among snake handlers and sang hunters. I had my reservations but it's really good. If the is a fault it is that the protagonist is a bit too perfect. I hate that. I like my heroes and heroins a bit flawed. Great traditional mystery set in Appalachia among snake handlers and sang hunters. I had my reservations but it's really good. If the is a fault it is that the protagonist is a bit too perfect. I hate that. I like my heroes and heroins a bit flawed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Ward

    Signs in the Blood by Vicki Lane (Bantam Dell 2005) (Fiction). This was my first taste of the writing of noted North Carolina author Vicki Lane. As the tale opens, Elizabeth Goodweather is an empty-nested widower who lives alone in the rural North Carolina mountains. Elizabeth's dear friend and neighbor is an old lady named Dessie who was raised in the community and spent her whole life there. When Dessie's mentally-challenged middle-aged son Cletus is found dead face down in a creek, the sherif Signs in the Blood by Vicki Lane (Bantam Dell 2005) (Fiction). This was my first taste of the writing of noted North Carolina author Vicki Lane. As the tale opens, Elizabeth Goodweather is an empty-nested widower who lives alone in the rural North Carolina mountains. Elizabeth's dear friend and neighbor is an old lady named Dessie who was raised in the community and spent her whole life there. When Dessie's mentally-challenged middle-aged son Cletus is found dead face down in a creek, the sheriff is convinced that Cletus accidentally fell in and drowned. But Dessie is certain that Cletus, who was terrified of water, would never get close enough to fall in. Dissatisfied with the direction of the sheriff's investigation, Dessie asks Elizabeth to look into the death, and Elizabeth agrees to try to help. Elizabeth's adventures as she explores the circumstances of Cletus' death serve to introduce a second plot line which involves the hundred year old mountain mystery of the disappearance of a child bride known as “Little Sylvie” from these parts. Much of the story takes place in and around the community of primitive Christian houses of worship. There are a number of small Southern mountain churches of like mind variously known as a "Holiness Church", a “Church of God With Signs Following", or some other moniker. These are the congregations often referred to by the name of one of the rituals involved in their primitive form of worship. These are “The Snake Handlers.” I enjoyed this read. My rating: 7/10, finished 2/12/19.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gayle

    Elizabeth Goodweather and her husband move to the Appalachian mountains and start a business. They are learning the customs of the area and also have become friends of people when Elizabeth's husband is tragically killed. Left with a broken heart Elizabeth leads her life where her children have grown and she has the business to run. A little romance, murder, and a lot of mystery of who could have done it. There is a side story of little Sylvie who lived in the area a long time ago that is very i Elizabeth Goodweather and her husband move to the Appalachian mountains and start a business. They are learning the customs of the area and also have become friends of people when Elizabeth's husband is tragically killed. Left with a broken heart Elizabeth leads her life where her children have grown and she has the business to run. A little romance, murder, and a lot of mystery of who could have done it. There is a side story of little Sylvie who lived in the area a long time ago that is very interesting. A good Mystery read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    I enjoyed this novel, a first for the author and wavered between a 3 and 4 rating. Set in rural North Carolina (Appalachia), the maincharacter, Elizabeth Goodweather, is a middle age widow who is set upon solving a murder for a friend, but is enthralled with another incomplete story about a young woman whose death and circumstances nearly a century before were uncertain. Interesting characters but many plot lines. It did leave me wanting to read another of her 6-7 books ( there are 5 in this ser I enjoyed this novel, a first for the author and wavered between a 3 and 4 rating. Set in rural North Carolina (Appalachia), the maincharacter, Elizabeth Goodweather, is a middle age widow who is set upon solving a murder for a friend, but is enthralled with another incomplete story about a young woman whose death and circumstances nearly a century before were uncertain. Interesting characters but many plot lines. It did leave me wanting to read another of her 6-7 books ( there are 5 in this series.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    I think I waited too long to review this. I remember enjoying the story while I was reading it but there were two story lines. Personally, I enjoyed the story line from the past much more than the present day although, of course, they ultimately connected. The story from the past about a child bride, Little Sylvie, was a compelling tale of spousal abuse and finding true love. In present day, Elizabeth Goodweather, recently widowed, continues to run the herb and flower business that she and her h I think I waited too long to review this. I remember enjoying the story while I was reading it but there were two story lines. Personally, I enjoyed the story line from the past much more than the present day although, of course, they ultimately connected. The story from the past about a child bride, Little Sylvie, was a compelling tale of spousal abuse and finding true love. In present day, Elizabeth Goodweather, recently widowed, continues to run the herb and flower business that she and her husband had built. They live on the property where Little Sylvie and her family resided in the past. When a neighbor's son ends up dying while hunting ginseng, Elizabeth decides to try a little private detection to figure out what happened...was it an accident of something more sinister. Between the religious snake-handling, a hippy commune/baby factory and the survivalists closeted away on the top of the mountain, she has her work cut out for her. I will definitely be checking out the second book in the series.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    Wow! So much going on in this book -- Militia, new age cults, snake handlers, tent revivals and a mysterious disappearance from long ago. The writing style was good, easy to read. I am debating if I will try Book 2. I think my reluctance has more to do with the setting and culture.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beckey

    Started as an iffy 3, at best. But the ending was a solid 3.5 🌟

  12. 5 out of 5

    Deb White

    Set in Appalachia country. Man found dead. What happened to him and his gun? Evangelists, militia men, cults, old Appalachia culture. This book has it all! Great storyline.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marseydoats

    I finished it, but I'm not really sure why. I did want to see who had killed Cletus, but the book was strange and unsettling. I finished it, but I'm not really sure why. I did want to see who had killed Cletus, but the book was strange and unsettling.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Recommended. I discovered this author on a trip to Asheville NC, when her just-released latest book was prominently displayed in the windows of Asheville's wonderful independent bookstore, Malaprop's. That book was a sequel, so I sought out this one, the first in her series set in rural NC. Provides a nice snapshot of Appalachian life and culture, both contemporary and a century ago -- though hardly comprehensive. My parents came from southeastern Kentucky, a bit west of this novel's setting, an Recommended. I discovered this author on a trip to Asheville NC, when her just-released latest book was prominently displayed in the windows of Asheville's wonderful independent bookstore, Malaprop's. That book was a sequel, so I sought out this one, the first in her series set in rural NC. Provides a nice snapshot of Appalachian life and culture, both contemporary and a century ago -- though hardly comprehensive. My parents came from southeastern Kentucky, a bit west of this novel's setting, and I felt many elements were presented authentically (at least they matched my experience). I especially loved the local dialect. All the background and local color is hung from a very conventional murder-mystery framework, which is quite ordinary, even forgettable. But I'd still recommend the book in a heartbeat. What some others have said: "Fundamentalist Christian snake handlers and liberal back-to-the-landers; a secretive white supremacist militia and undercover police agents; simple rural mountain dwellers and sophisticated urban artists—throw in a counterculture commune of allegedly extraterrestrial origin and that still wouldn’t cover all the disparate types who populate the Appalachian community of Ridley Branch, N.C., the setting for this well-crafted, dramatic tale of murder, miracles and midlife romance.  . .  Also admirable is the sensitivity with which Lane utilizes exotic religions to intensify the book’s dark-toned suspense, while resisting oversimplification and insult. Her heroine’s open-minded fascination with beliefs not her own should appeal to an unusually wide readership. "   -- Publishers Weekly Advance Forecasts (June 11, 2005)   “Vicki Lane shows us an exotic and colorful picture of Appalachia from an outsider’s perspective – through a glass darkly.  It is a well-crafted suspenseful tale of the bygone era before ‘Florida’ came to the mountains.” -- Sharyn McCrumb, New York Times Best-Selling author of St. Dale   “One can’t live in the Appalachians without hearing the stories that rise from them.  Vicki Lane is one of those rare storytellers who transports the mysteries and tales and characters of her beloved mountains into the greater world with dignity and sympathy and intelligence.  The mystery that intrigues me most right now is what she will do next.” -- Tony Earley, Author of Jim the Boy   “In Signs in the Blood, Vicki Lane captured my ear on the first page.  Her dialect is right on the money.  Her characters live and breathe and hold their secrets close – heart wrenching secrets that pulled me in and kept me reading.  Her imagery is so real you can touch it, smell it, feel it.  Now, add to all this a beautifully told tale with a great unexpected twist and you’ve got one of the best mystery books I’ve read in a long time.  I’ll be looking for more from Ms. Lane.” -- Sheila Kay Adams, Author of My Old True Love   “Curled up in a rocking chair next to the wood heater on a cold, damp winter day, Signs in the Blood warmed me and kept me engaged to the last page.  The characters were familiar; the landscape was close at hand.  Ms. Lane’s understanding of mountain language, history, and culture, combined with a wonderful ability to tell a story, made for an absolutely great read.” -- Rob Amberg, Author and photographer of Sodom Laurel Album

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Recent discussions on the DorothyL list caused me to order this book before I started my State Mystery Project. It takes place in North Carolina and I couldn't wait that long to read it; plus, having already read books by Sharyn McCrumb and Phillip DePoy, I'm familiar enough (vicariously) with the western NC mountains that, when I get to the state in my project, I'll be looking for something different, maybe coastal or the Research Triangle. Nevertheless, I hope Vicki Lane writes many more books Recent discussions on the DorothyL list caused me to order this book before I started my State Mystery Project. It takes place in North Carolina and I couldn't wait that long to read it; plus, having already read books by Sharyn McCrumb and Phillip DePoy, I'm familiar enough (vicariously) with the western NC mountains that, when I get to the state in my project, I'll be looking for something different, maybe coastal or the Research Triangle. Nevertheless, I hope Vicki Lane writes many more books about Elizabeth Goodweather and the area in which she lives. SIGNS IN THE BLOOD has some structural similarities to Sharyn McCrumb's GHOST RIDERS, which I read a short time back. Both alternate a modern story with a tale from the mountain past, told in the first person. I think Ms. Lane's is by far the better book. For one thing, the present-day story in SIGNS IN THE BLOOD is a true mystery and not ashamed to be one, whereas that in Ms. McCrumb's book rambles from character to character and never seems to go anywhere either as a mystery or a novel. The story from the past in Ms. Lane's book also brings to mind the tales in Deborah Grabien's Haunted Ballad series, in that we first hear a garbled version (or versions) of the story and, bit by bit, learn the truth. I don't mean by these comparisons to suggest that Ms. Lane's book is other than original -- quite the contrary. She has written an excellent book -- setting, characters and plot are all first-rate. Ms. Lane's protagonist, Elizabeth Goodweather, is a complicated character and a person I'd love to know in real life. As a relative newcomer to the mountains, she has made friends with the local people and learned much from them while maintaining her own sense of who she is. When her friend Birdie's "slow" son Cletus disappears while out hunting ginseng, Elizabeth tries to help find him. When Cletus's body is found in a river, and Birdie can't believe his death was an accident as the Sheriff believes, Elizabeth begins to investigate in earnest. Her investigation leads her to some interesting and rather scary places -- to services at a snake-handling church where she encounters a prophetess with messages for her, to a "New Age" community with a sinister feel, to a group of right-wing militiamen and to a revival preacher who's also an "Outsider artist." It's been five years since Elizabeth's husband was killed in the crash of a private plane. Only now has she really begun to allow herself to grieve for him, and perhaps because of that, she is also allowing herself to be a bit interested in men again. One of them is the preacher at the snake-handling church, to whom she is strangely attracted in spite of their having almost nothing in common; the other is an old friend of her husband's, a policeman, who shows up in nearby Asheville and wants to renew their acquaintance. When Elizabeth is the recipient of various threatening gestures, suspicion falls on both men. Indeed, there is plenty of suspicion to go around and red herrings abound. The thrilling denouement kept me up well past my bedtime. SIGNS IN THE BLOOD is a bit longer than most mystery novels, but there was not a page I would willingly have had left out. I'm rating it five stars/excellent and highly recommend it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    I discovered Vicki Lane at Malaprops in Asheville - Great discovery. Her settign is in the North Carolina mountains near Asheville. Her character, Elizabeth Goodweather is a widow trying to put her life back together. (I do relate) She has two daughters, Laura, an artist in Nashville and Rosemary, a professor at Chapel Hill. Her nephew Ben, is a partner in caring for the farm and her business of making things from wildflowers, etc. In this first of her series, she meets Phillip Hawkins, an army I discovered Vicki Lane at Malaprops in Asheville - Great discovery. Her settign is in the North Carolina mountains near Asheville. Her character, Elizabeth Goodweather is a widow trying to put her life back together. (I do relate) She has two daughters, Laura, an artist in Nashville and Rosemary, a professor at Chapel Hill. Her nephew Ben, is a partner in caring for the farm and her business of making things from wildflowers, etc. In this first of her series, she meets Phillip Hawkins, an army buddy of her deceased husband. It is clear that a relationship will develop. I find the mystery less interesting than the lives of the people. Elizabeth and her family, and the mountain people who are her friends. I envy her ear. Someone else wrote: Ms. Lane's protagonist, Elizabeth Goodweather, is a complicated character and a person I'd love to know in real life. As a relative newcomer to the mountains, she has made friends with the local people and learned much from them while maintaining her own sense of who she is. When her friend Birdie's "slow" son Cletus disappears while out hunting ginseng, Elizabeth tries to help find him. When Cletus's body is found in a river, and Birdie can't believe his death was an accident as the Sheriff believes, Elizabeth begins to investigate in earnest. Her investigation leads her to some interesting and rather scary places -- to services at a snake-handling church where she encounters a prophetess with messages for her, to a "New Age" community with a sinister feel, to a group of right-wing militiamen and to a revival preacher who's also an "Outsider artist." It's been five years since Elizabeth's husband was killed in the crash of a private plane. Only now has she really begun to allow herself to grieve for him, and perhaps because of that, she is also allowing herself to be a bit interested in men again. One of them is the preacher at the snake-handling church, to whom she is strangely attracted in spite of their having almost nothing in common; the other is an old friend of her husband's, a policeman, who shows up in nearby Asheville and wants to renew their acquaintance. When Elizabeth is the recipient of various threatening gestures, suspicion falls on both men. Indeed, there is plenty of suspicion to go around and red herrings abound. This is from Vicki Lane's website: Elizabeth Goodweather has wrapped herself in the serenity of Full Circle Farm, safe amid the idyllic fields of herbs and flowers on Pinnacle Mountain. The puzzling death of a neighbor's son shatters that peace and sends her on a life-changing quest in search of a missing shotgun. Traveling the winding roads into the hidden coves and hollows of the Appalachians, Elizabeth finds the laurel thickets and rocky hillsides are full of surprises --- serpent handlers, star children, tongues-talkers, sang hunters, militia men --- and murder.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angie Lisle

    A 3-star start with a 5-star ending. Appalachian literature, a story within a story: modern-day Elizabeth is helping a neighbor try to figure out what happened to her son, while the memory of Sylvie, who once lived where Elizabeth lives, still clings to the landscape and the people who remember her. This technique helps convey the evolution of Appalachia from then to now. At first glance, the meandering descriptions and plot could appear to be the mistake of an amateur writer, which Ms. Lane was A 3-star start with a 5-star ending. Appalachian literature, a story within a story: modern-day Elizabeth is helping a neighbor try to figure out what happened to her son, while the memory of Sylvie, who once lived where Elizabeth lives, still clings to the landscape and the people who remember her. This technique helps convey the evolution of Appalachia from then to now. At first glance, the meandering descriptions and plot could appear to be the mistake of an amateur writer, which Ms. Lane was at the time of publication. The book starts slowly, with an overload of information that winds up being an illusionist's trick to redirect attention. As the story progresses, the writing style begins to multi-task (and, honestly, I'm impressed by the delivery). The story-telling mimics the shape of Appalachia, wandering about much like our creeks and roads, slowing one down to a pace more suited for this neck of the woods. The language and sentence structure is reminiscent of the mountain ballads - the old, dark ballads that ain't afraid to show some spilled blood. That's a clue about the whammy of an ending for little Sylvie's story but one I completely ignored because the modern-murders themselves are covered in the way that reminded me of a cozy mystery - brief and at a distance, no one has to clean up the blood. So when we find out what Mr. Tomlin did to poor little Sylvie...it's a hard punch in the guts to see the matter laid out in plain sight and, when paralleled with the criminal activities that Elizabeth sees unfold, hints at a fear that is still present and active in the world today (and may be happening to some of the unmentioned victims of the story's modern crime, if one thinks about what could happen next, after this particular crime is committed - which sends shivers down the spine). I don't want to give spoilers but I will say this - people who are sensitive to fictional violence should avoid this particular book; however, I highly recommend this book to folks who love the old ballads and the bloody folktales attached to them. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    Elizabeth Goodweather lives a lovely and simple life in the hills and hollows of North Carolina, across the mountain from Tennessee. Even though she's lived there more than 20 years, raised her daughters there, and made warm friends, she's still a newcomer in many ways. After her husband died eight years ago, she threw herself in keeping their herb farm and business going and getting her daughters into their own lives. Now the daughters are living away and the farm is being managed by a nephew a Elizabeth Goodweather lives a lovely and simple life in the hills and hollows of North Carolina, across the mountain from Tennessee. Even though she's lived there more than 20 years, raised her daughters there, and made warm friends, she's still a newcomer in many ways. After her husband died eight years ago, she threw herself in keeping their herb farm and business going and getting her daughters into their own lives. Now the daughters are living away and the farm is being managed by a nephew and Elizabeth has more leisure time...and more time to miss her husband. As she struggles with grief, anger, and aloneness, her friend Miss Birdie asks Elizabeth for her help. Miss Birdie's son Cletus is found dead and Miss Birdie is certain it is not an accident. Her son was a simple soul, wandering the hollers all year pursuing wild ginseng and touching the lives of the people in the hollers of NC and TN. Elizabeth helps her and finds herself in the worlds of evangelical preachers, new age communities, militias, "squalor hollers," and holiness churches. Strange and compelling attractions and distractions come her way as she uncovers danger and the truth. Intertwining the present day story is the story of Little Sylvie who lived in a small cabin on Elizabeth's land. Unknown and misunderstood in the present day, Little Sylvie's story emerges with a new truth as well Wonderful storytelling, great command of the vernacular, and a terrific feel for the attraction of life philosophies not your own. The first in a series. I'll be reading more!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tinav

    Elizabeth Goodweather runs an herb and flower farm in the North Carolina mountains with the help of her nephew. She's a 'newcomer' to the area since she and her husband settled there only 20 years before. When the book opens, Elizabeth is nearly paralyzed in the grip of depression that began when her husband died five years before. And then a neighbor's son, rather 'simple' but with a strong knowledge of the mountains, turns up dead after one of his normal walkabout/hunting trips, and his mother Elizabeth Goodweather runs an herb and flower farm in the North Carolina mountains with the help of her nephew. She's a 'newcomer' to the area since she and her husband settled there only 20 years before. When the book opens, Elizabeth is nearly paralyzed in the grip of depression that began when her husband died five years before. And then a neighbor's son, rather 'simple' but with a strong knowledge of the mountains, turns up dead after one of his normal walkabout/hunting trips, and his mother does not believe it was an accident, and asks Elizabeth's help to trace his path. In an interesting but busy set-up, we learn of four religious groups established in the area, any of whom have secrets that may have led to the young man's death: a Stargazer cult, a white supremacist militia group, a snake-handling bible group, and a revivalist tent minister/painter with his followers. The book is excellent: good solid writing, a beautiful portrait of Appalachia and its people, drawn without cariacature or condescention, wonderful characters you want to read more about. Just a great start to a book series. Highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Elizabeth Goodweather lives in the hills and hollers of western North Carolina...though she's not a native. The differences between her and most of her neighbors are clearly set out in the first chapter as she waits, somewhat uncomfortably, to see her dying friend Dessie. The preacher is praying with the gathered family and friends, and Lane captures the delivery of a Southern evangelical, holiness-type prayer very well. Dessie's last words to Elizabeth tell her that trouble is coming and that E Elizabeth Goodweather lives in the hills and hollers of western North Carolina...though she's not a native. The differences between her and most of her neighbors are clearly set out in the first chapter as she waits, somewhat uncomfortably, to see her dying friend Dessie. The preacher is praying with the gathered family and friends, and Lane captures the delivery of a Southern evangelical, holiness-type prayer very well. Dessie's last words to Elizabeth tell her that trouble is coming and that Elizabeth has a role to play in setting things right. There are two mysteries in this book, one contemporary and one over a hundred years old. Elizabeth is trying to help an old friend determine if her son died in an accident or was murdered. The hunt leads her up and down the hollers, where she finds out that some of her new neighbors are not folks you want living next door. There are communes and compounds, and some people with guns and anger issues. The older mystery is what happened to Little Sylvie Tomlin - why did she run off with another man, leaving her child behind? Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Vicki Lane is a good writer and captures the rhythms and manner of mountain speech.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

    Signs in the Blood is an absorbing read set in the mountains of Appalachia. This story has it all -- snake handlers, charismatic preachers, prophecy, a religious cult, right-ring militia men, lost dogs, terminal illness, a spark of romance, and much more. Oh, and I almost forgot murder. The dialect is dead-on, and the author paints a moving portrait of the mountain people of this region. (She lives there herself.) And, although Elizabeth is an intellectual and an agnostic, she is both open-minde Signs in the Blood is an absorbing read set in the mountains of Appalachia. This story has it all -- snake handlers, charismatic preachers, prophecy, a religious cult, right-ring militia men, lost dogs, terminal illness, a spark of romance, and much more. Oh, and I almost forgot murder. The dialect is dead-on, and the author paints a moving portrait of the mountain people of this region. (She lives there herself.) And, although Elizabeth is an intellectual and an agnostic, she is both open-minded and respectful of her neighbors' devout religious beliefs. Interestingly, she is actually envious of those beliefs. There is a hundred year old subplot running in the background of this story that is fascinating as well. Elizabeth is a likable character, and Lane's well-crafted storytelling makes this a compelling mystery. This is the first in a series that I'm looking forward to reading. Recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    I started this book following reading the best book I have ever read. Therefore, I did set up some pretty low standards for this one. Unfortunately, I did not give this book it’s due credit. Not only was this a good follow-up to “The Last Child”, this is an incredibly well written and executed book all by itself. It’s set in the mountains of North Carolina. The book has two stories, one present, one approximately 100 years prior to the other, simultaneously. At first this was a bit difficult to I started this book following reading the best book I have ever read. Therefore, I did set up some pretty low standards for this one. Unfortunately, I did not give this book it’s due credit. Not only was this a good follow-up to “The Last Child”, this is an incredibly well written and executed book all by itself. It’s set in the mountains of North Carolina. The book has two stories, one present, one approximately 100 years prior to the other, simultaneously. At first this was a bit difficult to understand, but in the end, it really does come together nicely and they enhance each other. I found the scenery to be “ok” with no earth shattering descriptions. The scenery was, however, perfect for the pace of the book and the story and how the main character interacts with it and how it “defines” her and her life. The plot grows with every page, and the ending is worth the wait. Ultimately, this book is a treat that everyone should give a shot to. You won’t regret it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Moondance

    When Dessie Miller lay dying at home, her family overflowed the little house in a bittersweet reunion. Elizabeth Goodweather and her late husband moved to the Appalachian mountains to start a herb and flower farm. Cletus Gentry is a developmentally delayed man who is found dead after going into the hills to harvest ginseng. His elderly mother turns to Liz to find out what truly happened. This is actually two mysteries in one. Liz is looking for clues about Cletus and the long told story of Little When Dessie Miller lay dying at home, her family overflowed the little house in a bittersweet reunion. Elizabeth Goodweather and her late husband moved to the Appalachian mountains to start a herb and flower farm. Cletus Gentry is a developmentally delayed man who is found dead after going into the hills to harvest ginseng. His elderly mother turns to Liz to find out what truly happened. This is actually two mysteries in one. Liz is looking for clues about Cletus and the long told story of Little Sylvie and her disappearance in the early 1900's. I think I enjoyed Little Sylvie's story a bit more. The author obviously has ties to the mountains. Her dialect for the people is accurate for those that live in the deep recesses of the NC hills. The snake handling preacher creeps me out! I did not consider this book to be a cozy. It is a little heavy for that category. I enjoyed it enough to perhaps read the next one in the series.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Terry Fedosky

    Elizabeth Goodweather is a widow, trying to survive in her Appalachian home. Although she and her husband had made their home there, she still felt like an outsider. She didn't share the same customs and beliefs as her neighbors. She didn't have their faith. Nothing is as it seems in this mountain town. When the son of a friend is found in a creek, Elizabeth is asked to help investigate his death. Her search for information takes her to a snake-handling church, a hippie community, a religious fan Elizabeth Goodweather is a widow, trying to survive in her Appalachian home. Although she and her husband had made their home there, she still felt like an outsider. She didn't share the same customs and beliefs as her neighbors. She didn't have their faith. Nothing is as it seems in this mountain town. When the son of a friend is found in a creek, Elizabeth is asked to help investigate his death. Her search for information takes her to a snake-handling church, a hippie community, a religious fanatic, and a group of white supremacists. She also will become involved with the solving of a 100-year-old mystery. This was an enjoyable read with a lot of action.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    After many nudges from my friend Karen to start this series, I finally made the leap and am very glad I did. It brings to life one of my favorite areas of the country, in all of its Appalachian-gothic glory, and treats its oft-maligned inhabitants and culture with deep respect. I liked the protagonist, a woman of a certain age, who is not exactly an outsider after 20 years in the mountains, but stands apart enough to serve as a good liaison for the reader to that world. I look forward to reading After many nudges from my friend Karen to start this series, I finally made the leap and am very glad I did. It brings to life one of my favorite areas of the country, in all of its Appalachian-gothic glory, and treats its oft-maligned inhabitants and culture with deep respect. I liked the protagonist, a woman of a certain age, who is not exactly an outsider after 20 years in the mountains, but stands apart enough to serve as a good liaison for the reader to that world. I look forward to reading further in the series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    I discovered this author on a recent visit to Asheville and the beloved Malaprops bookstore/cafe. I'm not normally a fan of mystery yet I am captivated by anything Appalachian, especially books, so I decided to give this series a try. I was not disappointed! As others have written, the story of Little Sylvie was the most interesting and intriguing part of the novel. I found myself wanting to skip ahead to see what happens to her. I haven't read any further in the series (yet) but hope that Ms. L I discovered this author on a recent visit to Asheville and the beloved Malaprops bookstore/cafe. I'm not normally a fan of mystery yet I am captivated by anything Appalachian, especially books, so I decided to give this series a try. I was not disappointed! As others have written, the story of Little Sylvie was the most interesting and intriguing part of the novel. I found myself wanting to skip ahead to see what happens to her. I haven't read any further in the series (yet) but hope that Ms. Lane continues to introduce similar story lines.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Brooks

    I'm pretty judgemental on these types of books. Honestly, one of the few authors of this genre that I really enjoy is Patricia Cornwell. I, sadly, finished all of her books so I randomly picked up this one. It kept my very interested.I didn't get really into the book until about halfway through, but once I got to that point I had a hard time putting it down. The ending was a twist as well. Well to me at least, but then again I am oblivious to a lot of clues that books give haha. I'm pretty judgemental on these types of books. Honestly, one of the few authors of this genre that I really enjoy is Patricia Cornwell. I, sadly, finished all of her books so I randomly picked up this one. It kept my very interested.I didn't get really into the book until about halfway through, but once I got to that point I had a hard time putting it down. The ending was a twist as well. Well to me at least, but then again I am oblivious to a lot of clues that books give haha.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    A very different book for me. I enjoyed the descriptions of the mountain people and thought the characters were well written. I did feel that there was excess padding that made the book overly long. Some things could have been left out without hurting the story. It was interesting to read about the young girl in the early 1900's that was murdered and to follow that story line mixed in with the rest of the story. I will read more. A very different book for me. I enjoyed the descriptions of the mountain people and thought the characters were well written. I did feel that there was excess padding that made the book overly long. Some things could have been left out without hurting the story. It was interesting to read about the young girl in the early 1900's that was murdered and to follow that story line mixed in with the rest of the story. I will read more.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kitsey

    Don't be fooled into thinking that a book about a hippie farm woman in the mountains of North Carolina is going to be one of those cutesy, cozy mysteries. You will immediately fall in love with Elizabeth Goodweather and want to eat some of her fresh farm produce. However your mind will also be blown away by this dark mystery featuring some seriously spooky snake handling preachers, a group of angry white militia men and a creepy cult leader. This one will keep you up till you finish reading! Don't be fooled into thinking that a book about a hippie farm woman in the mountains of North Carolina is going to be one of those cutesy, cozy mysteries. You will immediately fall in love with Elizabeth Goodweather and want to eat some of her fresh farm produce. However your mind will also be blown away by this dark mystery featuring some seriously spooky snake handling preachers, a group of angry white militia men and a creepy cult leader. This one will keep you up till you finish reading!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol Kirshner

    This certainly falls within the Southern Gothic genre. Where some SG books are predictable and characters hackneyed, this one has a wide variety of characters and plenty of unexpected turns that kept me interested and engaged. I felt that some of the characters could have been developed a little more. It was more like the author was introducing you to people so that she could develop them in later books (which I understand exist).

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