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Nine Nights on the Windy Tree by Martha Miller

  • Author: Martha Miller
  • Book title: Nine Nights on the Windy Tree
  • Category: Gay & Lesbian
  • Subcategory: Literature & Fiction
  • Publisher: New Victoria Publishers; First Printing edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1892281112
  • ISBN13: 978-1892281111
  • Rating: 4.1
  • Votes: 324
  • Other formats: lit mbr txt lrf
3 Reviews
Bertha is a struggling black lawyer who finds herself dropped in the middle of a mystery when she's hired by a woman seeking legal counsel for a murder not yet committed. Later that evening, Bertha finds a man dead in her office. In her beloved grandmother's neighborhood, a building is burned, and arson is suspected. And then someone breaks into Bertha's apartment. As Bertha finds these events, and more, are linked, she finds her own life in danger, as well as her grandmother's. And somehow this is all tied in with Bertha's own family history to boot. Her life is further complicated (if you can still breathe) by a powerful attraction to one of the cops she encounters. It's a high speed ride that's full of danger and twists, which almost becomes suffocating for the reader as we follow Bertha on her adventure, but luckily, Miller's writing doesn't allow that to happen. I hope Miller continues this series, and gives the readers a break next time and let us catch our breath at some point. Her characterizations are superb and zesty, and the blossoming romance between Bertha and the police officer Toni is realistically rendered, and rather exciting.
First, incredible because there was never a dull moment, depiction of the many, touching relationships was Ms. Miller's strongest talent. Usually, I find straight narration somewhat boring. However, as a reader of over 60 murder-mysteries, I was just as entertained with the narration as I was with the conversations. I really did find myself visualizing in my mind the majority of the scenes - my way of really connecting with the writer. And I never stopped for once and thought a scene to be unbelievable.
Second, I found the book to be very enlightening as I did not know beforehand that it was based in part on a lesbian relationship. That I was not distracted by the several lengthy love scenes is a further testament to this oustanding work. From this perspective, the book also made me feel that we should consider the person and not their sexual orientation when considering the fitness to raise children. And finally, it was enlightening that Ms. Miller writes this Afrocentric story so well. Just one small "gotcha" - most black people do not speak as properly, guys like Alvin especially, as Ms.Miller depicts them.
Nonnetheless, it was still an incredibly enlightening read.
"After Bertha pinched together the last crumbs from the bag of chips and sucked the grease and salt from her fingers, she stared out Grandma's bedroom window, waiting. She watched the bushes in front of the Latch house ignite while the firemen supported a hose aimed at the roof. The view was unsettling. Grandma's dark bedroom grew very warm and the smell of smoke came and went with the wind change. Bertha fanned herself with a magazine and waited. She tried to remember where every piece of furniture was. Carrying the struggling old woman would be hard enough without tripping over a chair."
I sat there with Bertha and her grandma, feeling the heat, smelling the smoke, watching the fire. I could not put this book down until reading the last page. Another star for the author!
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