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Comes a Time for Burning    by Steven F. Havill Amazon.com order for
Comes a Time for Burning
by Steven F. Havill
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Comes a Time for Burning, second in the Thomas Parks series by prolific author Steven F. Havill, is not a book to read while enjoying your breakfast tea or a beautifully cooked and presented dinner. It might put one off food for a while until the memory of the story fades a bit.

The time is 1892. The place is Port McKinney, a small village of 1500 or so residents on the northwestern United States coast near a logging operation. When Dr. Thomas Parks took over his father-in-law's practice there, he assumed most of his patients would be ones hurt in the performance of their woodsmen jobs.

Not so. A working girl at the Clarissa Hotel is brought to his clinic; his new associate diagnoses her ailment as Asian Cholera! A whole new ball game. The horrifying symptoms are spelled out in such a way that the reader can almost see and smell the way cholera robs the body of any moisture. The treatments are just as horrific as the symptoms. What is truly mystifying is how an outbreak of an Asian pestilence would appear in a small American village.

I became thoroughly engrossed with the situation and the people trying to stop its spread, as well as the methods available at that time to treat patients of the disease that could kill, literally, within hours.

The characters involved behave as one might expect in an emergency of this magnitude. People are willing to help even at the risk of their own lives. As the cholera spreads through the village and logging camps, tension rises and hope for those already afflicted diminishes. The reader feels the tension and becomes such a part of the story, a thought of volunteering to help flashes across the mind.

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