Tuesday, March 2, 2010

'Cobblestones': Murder and Wiccan Rituals in Martha's Vineyard

Review: COBBLESTONES (PopPix Press 2010) (Kindle edition)
Author: J.T. Cummins

In COBBLESTONES, the island community of Martha's Vineyard becomes like a modern-day Salem, when an elderly couple are accused of homicide, allegedly related to witchcraft.

The story centers around deputy district attorney Matthew Bright, assigned to prosecute the case against Edwin and Cecelia Hubble. The Hubbles are Wiccans who are first suspected, then accused of killing local residents, based largely on circumstantial evidence. Bright (who's dealing with personal problems at home) must go up against the beautiful, but tough, defense attorney Lizabeth Mosley, who we eventually learn has a unique interest in the matter.

As the case proceeds, Bright's certainty about the Hubbles' guilt starts to waver. Nonetheless, his boss, Nathan Poole, wants to proceed full steam ahead--a decision dictated more by island politics and anti-Wiccan prejudice than it is by evidence.

At only 60 pages, COBBLESTONES qualifies as a novella, but an unusual one. The writing reflects the author J.T. Cummins' screenwriting roots, in that it's not only written from many perspectives, but the description is spare and more suggestive than detailed, similar to that found in scripts. The chapters tend to be short (and have the feel of movie scenes), conveying the story in bite-sized pieces that are easy to read and lead deftly into the next scene. So once you've read one, you want to keep going.

The story moves at a brisk clip and, with an economy of words, explores the political pressures on Bright and Poole (as well as the tensions between them), various romantic relationships, the community's antipathy toward the Hubbles and the Hubbles good-hearted innocence--or is it a facade? Cummins inserts a whisper of doubt about this.

Capable of being read in the time it takes to watch a feature film, COBBLESTONES is a lean, entertaining and fast-paced story that ends with a surprise twist and breathtaking climax--just like in the movies.

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