Book Review: RAZING THE DEAD by Sheila Connolly

RazingtheDead
Series: A Museum Mystery, #5
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


Once again Nell Pratt has to dig into the past to solve a murder in the present…

Between the challenges of her position as president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society in Philadelphia and of taking her relationship with FBI agent James Morrison to the next level, Nell Pratt has got her hands full. Nevertheless, when a powerful developer approaches the Society to make sure the old dairy farm he wants to level is not hiding any archaeological or historical surprises that could derail the project he’s planning, Nell decides to make time to personally accompany him to the proposed site.

But when they get to the property, they stumble upon a startling discovery—a body floating facedown in a pond. The dead man turns out to be an amateur history enthusiast, who may have uncovered secrets about the farm that got him killed. Now it’s up to Nell and James to get to the bottom of things before there are more deadly developments…


RAZING THE DEAD is a smart and entertaining cozy mystery blending Pennsylvania history with a modern-day murder investigation. This is book five in Sheila Connolly’s Museum Mystery series, and though I haven’t read the previous books, I was able to jump in with no problem.

Nell Pratt is president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society, and her passion for documenting local history has come in handy in more than one murder mystery. Nell is a down-to-earth, resourceful person, a bit on the serious side, with a knack for sleuthing. Nell gets pulled into another murder investigation when a big shot developer comes to her for help on his latest project.

I have to say that I really loved the history and the mystery in this book! The developer comes to Nell because he’s concerned about the land he’s purchased from a local farmer. The farm is not far from Duffy’s Cut, an infamous stretch of railroad where the bodies of Irish immigrant workers were unearthed. It’s the job of Nell and her team to research the history of the farm so another Duffy’s Cut situation won’t pop up in the middle of development. So when a murder victim is found on the property, followed by two other bodies, the developer gets antsy. Luckily Nell and her FBI agent boyfriend James are on the case.

RAZING THE DEAD was a well-crafted mystery with centuries old secrets and intriguing ties to actual historical events. I liked Nell, James, and the entire cast of characters. They were a practical group of folks who got things done. A secondary story in this book was the growing relationship between Nell and James. They appear to be at a crossroads, forge ahead together, or…what? Nell still has some heavy issues to work through, and I was rooting for them.

This is the first book by Sheila Connolly I’ve read, and I really enjoyed it. Now I need to read the first four books in this series and see how it all began.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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11 thoughts on “Book Review: RAZING THE DEAD by Sheila Connolly

  1. Diane–thanks for the lovely review. You really understood what I was trying to say. And you know about Duffy’s Cut? I had originally thought to use that as a theme, but I think it’s been well handled in the press, and there wasn’t much I could add. But there is plenty of history to work with in and around Philadelphia.

    • Hi, Sheila! I remember hearing about Duffy’s Cut in the news a couple years ago, but I couldn’t remember specific details. Your book piqued my interest again. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Nice review Diana, I have this author on my wishlist as well, one day … You sure keep tempting me with more and more good cozies.

  3. I am very familiar with Pennsylvania and it’s history so that alone has me curious. Wonderful review Diana, you have me adding book one to my wishlist on Amazon

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