WAS ELAINE CHAUVIER INSANE EVEN WHEN SHE WAS A FAMOUS ACTRESS BEFORE SHE INHERITED SHADOW'S WAY, OR DID HER HAUNTING BEGIN THEN? A PARANORMAL MURDER MYSTERY BY BARBARA FRANCES.
Her timing was perfect. As she rounded the corner, daily Mass had ended, and the Archbishop was standing outside the ornately carved doors of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
His followers were tiered below him on the steps. He turned and allowed his eyes to trace the contours of her body and she felt the thrill of power. A sheer white muslin shift clung to her black swim suit, still wet from morning exercise at the community pool. Despite the heat and the humidity from the Gulf of Mexico, she strolled by as if it were a cool spring day in Vermont.
Elaine Chauvier was a stately woman, aware of her long legs and enticing figure. Some said she was a snob and she would have agreed with them. After all, she was from aristocracy. Her great grandfather and General Robert E. Lee had been close friends, and her family had owned sections of plantation land and nearly a hundred slaves. No one could give this woman a passing glance without being momentarily transfixed. Soft black hair, always a bit ruffled to give a false impression of casualness, framed a face of classic perfection. Piercing dark eyes conveyed the superiority she felt over everyone.
Archbishop Andre Figurant gave hardly a thought to the man who knelt to kiss his ring or the mother holding up her baby for a blessing. His focus was across the street, beyond the wrought-iron fence surrounding the Cathedral’s property. The gliding presence hypnotized as well as beguiled him.
Two of the historic forces that still shape American culture, ante-bellum southern ideology and the catholic church, are brought into fascinating and disturbing juxtaposition in this novel. Barbara Frances lays bare traditions that while often enough exposed as decadent in some measure, still retain strong elements of venerability through the usual telling of their stories. Not here. Nothing is embellished or disguised. Imagine Scarlet Ohara as a penniless sociopath, and Tara to be constructed of rotten wood plastered with cheap paint and you have a hint of what to expect. At it’s core, however, like a Russell Lee camera lens, this work shows us marginalized people seeking growth and redemption without filters or touch-up. With all of their blemishes, in their stumbling nakedness they emerge as utterly noble.
Ms. Francis’ novel Shadow’s Way, had me enthralled from page one, it kept me reading until so late into the night that I used a flashlight in order not to wake my husband.
I’ve always enjoyed reading gothic tales, but this one went beyond most that I had read. The synopsis was correct, past and present mingled and left me on the edge of my seat. Was G – G – Daddy a real paranormal experience or a figment of Elaine Chauvier’s imagination, which got worse as she sunk deeper into insanity?
I loved the various characters that Ms. Francis brought into play as needed to heighten the story. They were well rounded and interconnected in ways that one has to keep reading to get the full picture.
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