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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Lazarus: The Lewiston West Virginia Trilogy, Book 2, is a murder mystery novel written by Nancy Swing. Life had always involved hard work around the farm for Jimmy Lee and the rest of his family, but his father’s death, when Jimmy was sixteen, changed things radically for the young adult. Jimmy was the eldest and had now become the head of the family. He had to leave school to find a job to support the family. It was a hard thing for a boy who had dreams of college and a call to the ministry to consider, and the scarcity of jobs made it even harder. Then he heard about the widow woman who was planning to rebuild the old, abandoned Thomasson cabin. The manager of the PayLo thought maybe Jimmy Lee might be a good fit for the job, seeing as his dad had taught him how to be handy with tools. First, he went out to view the cabin, and he could see past the collapsed roof and water damage to the solid structure first put up two hundred years before. They could fix this, he reasoned, and he left a note with his name and number in the door jamb. Sarah Simmons called him that night and arranged to meet him the next day. She seemed oddly out of place in small-town Lewiston, but underneath her educated speech, Jimmy Lee could hear the West Virginia of her youth.
This is the second book in Nancy Swing’s Lewiston West Virginia Trilogy, but don’t let that discourage you from reading Lazarus as a standalone novel. Swing does bring in some of the characters from Child’s Play, the first book in the series, but Lazarus is Jimmy Lee’s story, and it’s a very good one. Sarah Simmons plays a leading role in Jimmy Lee’s coming of age, gives him responsibilities and a purpose. I loved seeing Jimmy growing into manhood under his mentors, Sarah Simmons and Pastor Bob Marvin, even as I despaired along with him at the senseless destruction that cost Simmons her life. Swing’s writing is lyrical and lovely; her mystery has plenty of red herrings for Jimmy and the reader to consider; and her characters are quite unforgettable. Lazarus: The Lewiston West Virginia Trilogy, Book 2 is most highly recommended.