Multinomah, Jan 2003, 10.99, 276 pp.
In 1960, Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia is one of last barrier islands to be privately owned by an individual. Charlotte Hill MacKinnon, the owner of most of the land intends to keep it that way. When she dies, she leaves her holdings on Cumberland Island to Hannah Williams Hill, her sister in law. Hannah feels the same way about Cumberland as Charlotte did and she intends to fight off the developers and the Parks Department who want to take it by eminent domain.
Even though she is in the end stages of multiple sclerosis, her mind is clear and she asks her nephew, archivist Ben Reese to help her. Ben has one satisfying conversation with Hannah before she dies and he wants to help the new heir, Johanna Elliott, a shy retiring opera singer who intends to carry out her aunt's wishes. Ben isn't sure that Hannah died from natural causes so he starts his own investigation just to make sure that there isn't a killer on the loose ready to strike again.
Sally Wright is a very talented, very visual writer who describes Cumberland Island in such detail that readers will feel they have visited the place. The fourth Reese mystery is the best yet, primarily because the audience feels closer to the protagonist. OUT OF THE RUINS is a cerebral brainteaser that will appeal to fans of literary mysteries.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner