Haunt Me Still
Jennifer Lee Carrell
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Buy *Haunt Me Still* by Jennifer Lee Carrell online

Haunt Me Still
Jennifer Lee Carrell
400 pages
April 2010
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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In this fast-paced literary thriller, Carrell entwines the search for Macbeth’s elusive manuscript to witchcraft’s ancestral rites in the remote hills of Scotland. Filling her pages with the past and the present, the author unfurls a complicated plot along with a seething cauldron of ritualized killings, the dark legacy of murder playing out on a “whispering ill-wind.”

Lady Nairn, a once-glamorous Shakespearean actress, invites theater director Kate Stanley to Dunsinane House on Castle Hill. Convinced that her husband, Sir Angus, was closing in on an important find before his sudden death a fortnight ago, she tells Kate he had found evidence of an earlier version of Macbeth, one that had existed and survived into the dawn of the 20th century.

Lady Nairn defiantly enlists Kate to help with the search for the missing manuscript, certain that her husband will somehow be vindicated. When Kate meets Lady Nairn’s granddaughter, wide-eyed and flame-haired Lily, and later discovers the body of a girl lying on the Tor, her neck smeared thick with blood, she becomes convinced that the girl was Lily and that she was brutally murdered.

In this remote region of Scotland, old histories never die - especially the legend of King Macbeth, considered to be a hero king and a reviled tyrant. This is the land where witches and their magic are said to be different, where magic is actually practiced and not just "cackled on a stage." With history rearranged, cut and pasted to fit myth, Kate finds herself haunted by the whispers on the wind calling to her: “she must die.”

When Lily is kidnapped, perhaps to become part of some sort of ritualized kill, the body count piles up, chief suspects are revealed, and victims become awash in blood and gore. Kate’s investigation eventually takes her to London and on to New York in a serpentine trajectory of half-truths and tangents as she endeavors to unravel what is dreamed and what is real, the reason behind Sir Angus’s death, and the rites of blood sacrifice, preserved in an otherwise lost pagan religion.

A silver bowl, a small mirror in an ornate carved frame and an ancient knife offer some clues to the lost manuscriptl; other certainties begin to drop into place like pieces of a puzzle floating of their own accord. Suddenly everything seems to make appalling sense. Chased by a knife-wielding killer, Kate unexpectedly finds herself caught in a tug-of-war where perhaps only loyal Ben Pearl can save her.

Carrell’s flat characterizations belie her themes of glamour, magic, and the power to weave subtle webs of illusion. When the door between the living and the dead ties Elizabeth Stewart to Lady Arran, the historical figure standing in the shadows of Lady Macbeth, Kate discovers a haunting passion where magic and mystery meld, and where the darkened legacy of Lady Macbeth takes on a whole new and frightening meaning.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Michael Leonard, 2010

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