There is a new Quaker mystery series out, and it is a treat for fans of the traditional small town murder mystery genre with a twist. Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is a compelling character with compassion and curiosity. She is ahead of her Victorian era in many ways, but her observations and opportunities are consistent with the experiences available in her historical setting. The author, Edith Maxwell, is a practicing Quaker and has also done her research to bring both imaginary and real Amesbury, Mass., Friends to life.
Maxwell sets the book in her own town of Amesbury, basing locations on her home and meeting. Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier is an influential supporting character, allowing history and imagination to connect the reader more fully to an actual, particular time and place. The story unfolds at a good pace with a mystery that is solvable but not obvious, with several well-played red herrings along the way.
Rose Carroll’s career as a midwife is a clever twist that adds dramatic tension and opportunities for thoughtful insights. Her midwifery and her Quaker faith are core components of her identity, and the influence of each on her life is well articulated. There is depth and complexity present in Rose’s choice to work amongst and interact with a variety of people in her community, both Quaker and non-Quaker. Social pressures and realities of life in late 1880s New England are subtly woven into the story. However, key themes and challenges Rose faces highlight timeless elements of the human experience: love and loss; compassion and empathy; struggles with abuse, deceit, and illness (both mental and physical).
Delivering the Truth is a thoughtful, relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable read. It meets the standards of the genre successfully enough to receive rave reviews from the mainstream press, and presents Quaker characters and their practices with refreshing authenticity. Maxwell has also published short stories featuring the same lead character. Hopefully the mystery series will continue to unfold with additional full-length books so that readers might spend more time with Friend Rose Carroll.