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The Strange Death of Mistress Coffin

2.97  ·  Rating Details ·  63 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
Based on an actual unsolved murder that took place near what is now Exeter, New Hampshire during the 17th century, this novel by Robert J. Biegiebing is at once a spellbinding work of crime and detection and a fascinating evocation of life in early America. The author draws on extensive research of the time to produce recognizable, human characters as they confront the ext ...more
Hardcover, 236 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published 1991)
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Linda Hali
An odd book and compelling. Based an a fairly grim unsolved murder in 1648 New Hampshire- the tone, language, characters and resolution hold true to the period. Begiebing is an English and History professor and this is one of three published books that evoke a novel which might have been written in this era. The women characters are rendered both dependent of the men and community- but independent in thinking and remarkably competent- which wouldn't one HAVE to be to survive the rigors of settli ...more
Jul 21, 2016 Athena rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
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Claudia Putnam
Sep 03, 2013 Claudia Putnam rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I read this book when it first came out; it's survived several moves and bookshelf purges. I don't remember all the details but I remember that it gave me much to think about. I still think about how complicated the relationships between the settlers and the Natives were, and also how diverse the agendas and concerns within the Colonial communities. Peter Ackroyd, in his novel First Light, makes the case that we are really the same as we have ever been, while Hilary Mantel argues the opposite in ...more
Jean-Paul Adriaansen
It's a good thing that this book, originally published in 1991, came back on the market. Robert Begiebing, professor of English and historian, succeeded in evoking the spirit of the time when the first pioneers took hold on the Piscataqua region in New Hampshire.
The reciprocity between the settlers and the Native Americans, as well as the constant fear of "savage attacks," the hard labor and the possible fruits thereof, religion and superstition, all those things are never far away while the my
Jul 17, 2008 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hist-fic
The premise of this short novel, a mysterious and brutal death, is intriguing, as is its setting. The writing is intelligent and the main character, Richard Browne, is well explored. His uncertainty and mis-steps are particularly appealing. Most of the detail regarding life in 17th century New England is accurate. Once the plot line is laid out, however, the story never goes anywhere else, sinking into 100 pages of dialogue and inner monologue.
New England, puritan era, 1600's murder mystery.... wonderful for its depiction of the landscape of Boston and its environs at this time and the extraordinary isolation of the tiny village this takes place in (maybe 10-15 from Boston.) A vision of the great wilderness that was early New England that we rarely see written about.
Nov 26, 2011 Stefanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish Goodreads allowed half stars so that I could award it another half star. The location and characters are interesting and the crime is intriguing (if horrible and brutal), but the execution consists of a lot of inner monologue and, at the end, a lot of quoted poems and songs. I kept putting it down, which is not a good sign.
Jun 21, 2007 Brandi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I normally don't gravitate towards books set in New England around 1648. This book was "based on an actual unsolved murder from the records of Colonial America". This intrigued me, but the book was disappointing. The author would start going off on what the country was doing at the time and would leave the main story.
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