Stranger at the Wedding by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After Circle of the Moon, Barbara Hambly went on my probation list. After Stranger At The Wedding, she is officially off probation and back in my readerly good graces.
I found this an absorbing, entertaining and suspenseful tale of a sorceress who - expelled from her family six years ago for reasons that slowly unfold and are revealed to be more complex throughout the book - returns upon the eve of her sister's Alix wedding to determine who wants Alix dead. The world is realistic and well portrayed, and I love fussy high society and intrigue.
Other reviewers have noted that the mystery was something of a cheat, and I have to disagree - with reservations. I found that the main reason I suspected what was going on was not because of in-story hints, but due to the device the author used to write it. I also did find that some elements were introduced a hair too late and lightly, but I've found this same flaw in mainstream mystery novels.
I thought the romance plotline was adorable, though my enjoyment of it was lessened slightly by the fact that I knew it was coming (again having read reviews here - note to self, don't do that before I've finished the book myself).
And the way the various elements of obligation, family and love are wound together is nicely done. This is not a message book (thank goodness), but it does treat these themes seriously without ever bogging down.
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