Monday, August 10, 2020


 Dear Mystery Maven, I recently read a strange albeit compelling mystery by a favorite author of mine - Ottessa Moshfegh’ s DEATH IN HER HANDS.    The novel seems in the beginning a traditional mystery.  A lonely seventy-two-year-old widow, Vesta Gul, finds a neatly written note on the ground near her home - an abandoned Girl Scout campsite.  “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her body.”  But there is no body, no evidence of a murder.  Vesta decides to solve the “crime” and goes to her local library to find out how one goes about solving mysteries.  We soon learn more about Vesta than we ever learn about Magda.  At first, she tells us in glowing terms about her husband Walter, an older academic who has recently died.  As the novel progresses, we realize he was domineering, unfaithful, and cruel to Vesta.  With each presumption she makes about Magda, we learn something of Vesta’s life.  Her interactions with neighbors and even her dog show us a woman of great curiosity and kindness, but also someone who has lived an unexamined life.  Throughout we wonder how reliable a narrator Vesta is… but we always feel genuine affection for her.  Recommended!