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by Nancy Atherton
Viking Penguin, October 2001
256 pages
ISBN: 0141002190

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil is a distinct type of book in the mystery field. I have never read anything comparable to it. Aunt Dimity just happens to be a ghost. Unlike any other novel where the ghost roams around on it's own; Aunt Dimity communicates by writing in a special blue diary. Her main source of communications is with Lori Shepherd. She is also not opposed to helping Lori while other people are in the vicinity. Which is certainly good for Lori because in this book Lori desperately needs all the help she can get.

Her boss, Stan has commissioned Lori Shepherd, to go to Wyrdhurst Hall in Northumberland. Her job is to go up there to check out a rare book collection to see if anything is of worth. Excited by the books but even more excited about a vacation from her teething children, Lori begins her trip. On her way up to Wyrdhurst Hall, the weather is atrocious. Lori is almost killed by the fog and wind when her car is pulled off a mountainside. Her car is totaled and her belongings are at the bottom of the mountain. Lori is dazed and confused from her near death experience, when she wakes up naked and next to a strange man. Things just don't seem to be going to Lori's way. Lori manages to become friends with Adam, the naked strange man. He figured nothing would warm her up like body heat!

When Lori finally arrives at Wyrdhurst Hall she realizes that she is acting in a manner that is very strange to her. She is very attracted to Adam is very confused to what she sees as a disloyalty to her husband. There is also much more to confuse her at Wyrdhurst. Jared and Nicole Hollander are her hosts and come off as being extremely unhappy. Jared is a very rude man and Nicole is a frightened woman. She and all the villagers believe that the original owner, Josiah, haunts the hall. Nicole claims to have heard maniacal laughing and having seen faces at her window. Lori knows she must get to the bottom of all that is happening, with a little help from Aunt Dimity.

The more that I read into the book the more I grew to like the main character, Lori Shepherd. She is remarkably warm and very unpredictable. I enjoyed not being able to figure out what Lori's next move would be. I very much enjoyed this book because of its characters. They were all wonderfully written. The only character, who I did not enjoy, ironically was Aunt Dimity. When I saw the title of the book I thought she would have a much bigger role. This book did not benefit any way from her being involved. Another surprising yet delightful part of this mystery was it's pace throughout. While there was no murder, I still couldn't wait to get to the end of the book to find out the outcome of these people's lives. Usually I am rushing to find out whodunit but this book was so gratifying it didn't need that aspect to create suspense. I highly recommend this book to any mystery lover.

Reviewed by Robyn Glazer

Reviewed by Robyn Glazer, August 2001

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