Hell with the Lid Blown Off by Donis Casey

Hell with the Lid Blown Off by Donis Casey
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (228 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

In the summer of 1916, a big twister brings destruction to the land around Boynton OK. Alafair Tucker’s family and neighbors are not spared the ruin and grief spread by the storm. But no one is going to mourn for Jubal Beldon, who made it his business to know the ugly secrets of everyone in town. It doesn’t matter if Jubal’s insinuations are true or not. In a small town like Boynton, rumor is as damaging as fact.But as Mr. Lee the undertaker does his grim duty for the storm victims, he discovers that even in death Jubal isn’t going to leave his neighbors in peace. He was already dead when the tornado carried his body to the middle of a fallow field. Had he died in an accident or had he been murdered by someone whose secret he had threatened to expose? There are dozens of people who would have been happy to do the deed, including members of Jubal’s own family. As Sheriff Scott Tucker and his deputy Trenton Calder look into the circumstances surrounding Jubal’s demise, it begins to look like the prime suspect may be someone very dear to the widow Beckie MacKenzie, the beloved music teacher and mentor of Alafair’s daughter Ruth. Ruth fears that the secrets exposed by the investigation are going to cause more damage to her friend’s life than the tornado. Alafair has her own suspicions about how Jubal Beldon came to die, and the reason may hit very close to home.

Murder and mayhem burn through the town of Boynton, Oklahoma faster than a twister gone wild.

In the summer of 1916 a large twister carves a path of destruction into the rural town of Boynton, Oklahoma. A cast of characters, each threatened by the odious Jubal Beldon in his or her own way, finds themselves in the middle of a murder investigation. A book in the Alafair Tucker mystery series, the tale winds around on itself and lays out one or two particular surprises at the end.

For someone who has not read any of the series beforehand, it didn’t take me long to figure out what was happening. The unique way the author used to show many points of view was very effective in a murder mystery and really showed what times were like back in 1916. The language, the mannerisms of the local people…everything, even including some pretty sharp prejudices.

At the onset of the book, it did take me awhile to figure out where the story was leading. You got to meet a host of people and learned quickly what an unpleasant person Jubal Beldon was. He lied, created rumors where there was nothing to see and made a host of people’s lives miserable. When a twister hit the town and he was found dead, there were many who were glad to see him not residing on the planet any longer. But who might have hated or feared him enough to actually have killed him?

An investigation is formed and one by one suspects have their secrets laid bare. The twist at the end is a good one, but the conclusion was fairly uneventful. The one issue I had with the book was the issue of homosexuality and the abject hatred people had for anyone perceived as gay in those times. I felt the author was making a point about motivational factors as regards to murder, but at times it frankly made me uncomfortable. The misery of the accused characters and repercussions of being found out were horrendous. The family issues of being disowned were also very emotionally infused. I would indeed be curious as to the author’s views on the subject and why she chose to show that particular part of history in her work.

For the most part, I enjoyed the story. It was like coming home to visit a group of relatives I had never met in a small town I had never been to. I would read more books by the author and congratulate her on a powerful use of many different POV throughout the book.

If you enjoy down home country cooking with a side of mystery, then you must check out the Alafair Tucker series.


  1. […] that I blush. Check that out here. And last but not least, I was notified yesterday of a review at Long and Short Reviews that is incredibly interesting. The reviewer was a bit disturbed by the prejudices displayed so […]

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