My Lady of the Bog: An Archeo-Forensic Mystery
The book begins like this:
A peat-digger found her, three-and-a half feet deep in the bog, lying on her back, staring up at the heavens; though this was not revealed until the peat was later stripped from her body…
What the digger --- an excitable lad named Sam --- struck first was a shoe. It was a peculiar shoe, shaped like a kayak. Still, he had thought little of it. Items like it were forever turning up in Holders Fen, as if the bog were that place where all lost things --- the key to the garden shed, the clip-on shades someone swiped from your room --- eventually re-surface, sooner or later. Except with this shoe, a foot was still in it!
A perfectly preserved foot. The authorities call in Xander Donne, an American anthropologist now enjoying a fellowship in England. He examines the corpse. She’s young, beautiful, nude, pinned down by stakes.
"The pleasure of MY LADY OF THE BOG is that all the strains of the writer’s broad knowledge are played out in this book."
A sacrifice, it would seem. Recent? Dunne thinks not. He can’t suggest a date right away, but he soon decides this perfect corpse was killed 700 years ago. Smart call. A less smart call: pulling rune-inscribed stakes from her body. Translated, they’re a warning: “Do not remove these stakes. This woman is a witch.”
Under the body is treasure. Dunne sends some to an expert to be analyzed --- what are the odds that expert will come to a bad end? Other treasure is handed over to the police for safekeeping --- what are the odds it will disappear?
What kind of book is this?
The author describes it as an “Archeo-Forensic Mystery.” Sure. Whatever. But that’s just the beginning of the ways to describe MY LADY OF THE BOG. Add a romance. A supernatural thriller. A ghost story. A book like no other. [To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]
Clearly, Peter Hayes is not a genre writer.
Or a genre person. I met him at college, where we became casual friends. He wrote a book called THE SUPREME ADVENTURE: The Experience of Siddha Yoga decades before I know enough about Siddha Yoga to be interested in it. From time to time, we email; once my wife and I had an enjoyable lunch with Peter and his wife. A year ago, when I was in a quandary and asked HeadButler.com readers for advice, Peter’s was the response I most valued. My one-line appraisal: Wherever I plant a foot, Peter was there first.
The pleasure of MY LADY OF THE BOG is that all the strains of the writer’s broad knowledge are played out in this book. The quote at the beginning is from Keats, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.”
I met a Lady in the Meads
Full beautiful, a faery’s child
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild —
That’s an invitation. And a warning. You won’t sit back and delight in the twists and turns of a traditional whodunnit. You’re going to be bounced around in time and geography, you’re going to need a caffeinated beverage near at hand. And you must be willing to fall a little in love with a woman who died when literature’s top selling author was Dante.
Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth on May 16, 2014