A Parliament of Crows
“A Parliament of Crows” is another installment in Alan M. Clark’s collection of “horror that happened” historical mystery/horror books. It tells the story, based on historical fact, of the three Mortlow sisters, who went on a killing spree that lasted decades.
The story could have been lurid, and there are certainly moments in the book that may cause more squeamish readers to want to turn away, but, as with the author’s books about the victims of Jack the Ripper, the focus is not on the gory details, but on the psychological development of the characters. As the tale of the sisters’ crimes unfolds over the decades, we get each sister’s perspective on what happened and why they felt like they had to do what they did. What emerges is a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of a trio of women struggling to survive in the South during and after the Civil War, and how psychopathology can meet extreme circumstances to create tragedy for all concerned.
The story, while spanning decades and told from three viewpoint characters, is not long, and the writing style is clean and simple, allowing the tale itself to shine through. This makes a complex story a surprisingly easy read. There are several different mysteries interwoven throughout the narrative, all of which draw the reader along and culminate in the denouement of the final chapters, when the events of the Civil War that set the sisters down their path are revealed. “A Parliament of Crows” is probably not for every reader, as it is far from cozy and fluffy, but fans of Southern Gothic and historical mysteries will find a lot to enjoy in the vivid historical detail and excellent plotting.
My thanks to the author for providing a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.