Ice-Cold Justice: Unraveling Mysteries with Martha Ballard in The Frozen River

Ariel Lawhon’s The Frozen River plunges readers into the harsh winters of 1789 Hallowell, Maine, with a historical mystery that’s as chilling as the Kennebec River. At the heart of this riveting tale is Martha Ballard, a 54-year-old midwife and healer with connections that stretch from Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, to Mary Hobart, one of America’s pioneering female physicians.

When Martha is called to examine a man found frozen in the river, she uncovers signs of foul play. The deceased, Joshua Burgess, appears to have been beaten and hanged prior to his icy entombment. Adding layers to the mystery, Martha recalls her earlier documentation of a brutal rape of a young pastor’s wife, allegedly by two prominent townsmen, connecting the dots between the rape and the murder.

Martha’s investigation spans a gripping winter, during which her meticulous diary entries become crucial to unraveling the town’s darkest secrets. Her journey isn’t just about seeking justice; it’s a deep dive into community ties entangled with deceit.

She is an unforgettable character, exuding the strength and resilience reminiscent of Claire Fraser from Outlander. Lawhon masterfully portrays her as a formidable force, navigating through intense courtroom dramas, poignant family dynamics, and vivid scenes of midwifery.

Lawhon’s narrative skillfully weaves together the past and present, delivering a story that’s both tense and tender. For anyone who loves a well-crafted historical mystery with a strong female lead, The Frozen River is a must-read. This book earns a glowing 5 stars for its thrilling plot and profound character exploration.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Literature, Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .