Title: “The 5 Manners of Death”
Author: Darden North
Publisher: WordCrafts Press
Author Darden North practices obstetrics and gynecology in Jackson, Miss. “The 5 Manners of Death” is his fifth novel and takes place in the Mississippi Delta where North grew up.
The main character is a single mother, surgeon and friend of the local police chief in this fictional murder mystery. The author takes us from Diana Bratton’s current life, back in time to a group of friends attending Ole Miss in 1966, one of which is her aunt through marriage.
Bratton lives a fast-paced life in Jackson, Miss., as a busy surgeon dealing with a young teen daughter with her own attitude and perception of life. Since her divorce, her goals are to provide a good private school for Kelsey and pay her huge student loans monthly. Her only other living relative is Aunt Phoebe, a Southern woman who never worked a day in her life and depended on others to maintain her lifestyle since her birth.
When Bratton comes upon several seemingly natural deaths of people she knows, she becomes more tuned in with her medical background and her connection to the Jackson police chief. She comes across notes from an Ole Miss English composition creative writing class written by her Aunt Phoebe titled, “The Five Manners of Death,” and realizes that they may connect to the many unsolved deceased people happening around her own life and the lives of Kelsey and Aunt Phoebe. The deaths included: natural, accidental, suicidal, homicidal and unclassified.
The author jolts us back to 1966 at Ole Miss where Aunt Phoebe and four male students spend time outside of classes and studies to gamble for high stakes gains. When one of their gambling friends suddenly disappears, no one is concerned until 50 years later when the skeleton of a young man is excavated near the University of Mississippi. Suspicion falls on Aunt Phoebe who knew the victim at Ole Miss and now has tight ties to many of the others. Bratton is torn between her loyalty to her aunt and the evidence found around the deceased.
The twists and turns of the events kept me intrigued and guessing until the very end. I would recommend this book for those murder mystery fans who enjoy intrigue. I may read Darden North’s other mysteries: "House Call,” “Points of Origin,” “Fresh Frozen” and “Wiggle Room.”