05 October 2020

Review || Dead Woman Scorned by Michael Clark



She's back, and they’ll regret what they’ve done.

Mildred Wells had a miserable life that carried over to a lonesome death. In the end, they betrayed her--played her the fool.

She was the last to know, but there's still time to catch up. She'll formulate her painful plan as they live their lives in blissful ignorance.

With no more family, only vengeance drives her; in fact, it’s all she has. She would have rather rested in peace, but for Mildred, dying isn't so easy.



   



PROLOGUE

October 1971—One year before the Open House 

(at the end of The Patience of a Dead Man, Book One)


Tim Russell banged his palm against the steering wheel in frustration—he’d forgotten his wallet. He wondered for a second if he really needed it before tomorrow, then looked at the gas gauge—near empty. Not even enough gas to make it to Holly’s house in Laconia. He stepped on the brake and pulled over to the side of the dirt road to make a U-turn, then hesitated.


It shouldn’t be a problem—to simply turn around, drive the quarter-mile back, walk into the house and retrieve the wallet—but it was undeniably harrowing even though their struggles with the murderous Mildred Wells were over. They’d beaten her, and she’d been taken away weeks ago, but even so, Tim’s stress level was off the charts as he worked alone each day, watching over his shoulder, restoring the old house as fast as he possibly could. 


He looked back before making the turn, his heart picking back up to the level it had maintained the entire day. Here I go--I’m going back in, he thought, as he postponed thoughts of the cold beer waiting for him at the convenience store a mile down the road. Best to hit and run. He stepped on the gas and made the turn, never taking his eyes off of the house and, more specifically, the turret, his designated office space during the reconstruction--the room where he’d left his wallet.


In seconds he was inside the front porch, opening the front door, faking as though there was nothing to be afraid of. Once inside, he noticed that it seemed very dark in the kitchen. It was late May, and the longest day of the year would be here in less than a month. Sunset should be at around 8 pm today, with the twilight keeping things well lit for another half-hour at least. Strange. He turned to look out the kitchen window. 


It was pitch black outside, and his truck was already gone.


In a panic, he spun for the porch, deep down, becoming aware that forgetting his wallet was the greatest mistake of his life. The smell hit him right then, and he wondered why he hadn’t noticed it sooner. The front door was closed and locked, even though he’d left it open on purpose. He grabbed the knob and began to work it when three flies landed on his hand and wrist. No. She must be close. Tim turned to the dark dining room to protect his back. Mildred Wells stood in the far corner, motionless. 






Dead Woman Scorned is Book Two in The Patience of a Dead Man series and takes a different run at the dark shadow that is Mildred Wells than Book One did. (Read my review of The Patience of a Dead Man here) While we already know that Mildred is more than a disembodied haunting, Clark takes us back to the beginning, revealing exactly how developed into what she is and how she acquired her power. 

Surprisingly, the picture of Mildred Wells that comes into focus is one to be almost shockingly sympathetic towards. While there is no denying that she is this rage-filled vengeful creature, she might truly have reason to be. Her past was certainly not kind to her. In fact, you could almost say it purposefully molded her. As they say: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Tim and Holly get a break from being the object of her furor as she absconds on a terrifying spate of revenge. All is not well, however, and Mildred's absence from the farmhouse is only a temporary respite. 

Once again, the pace of the novel leaves no downtime for the reader to worry about getting bored. We are cast about from character to character, from past to present, as the story weaves strain and apprehension around everyone involved. There are even new characters to get to knowsome more temporarily than others—like neighbor, Bob Simmons, police officer and relative to Elizabeth the writer of the scrapbook found by Tim in the farmhouse. While quite a chunk of the story focuses on the past, it's only setting the stage for when Mildred returns now that we are all fully aware of what she is capable of. 

The departure from the farm house and Tim and Holly's story was a bit disorienting, especially after the abrupt ending of Book One. While this allows for fully explore Mildred's past, the nail-biting disquiet permeating Dead Woman Scorned wasn't felt as much here. I look forward to Anger is an Acid, which hopefully will bring Mildred's tale full circle. 


Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.
The Patience of a Dead Man, Dead Woman Scorned & Anger is an Acid are his first three novels.







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