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Book Nook: The Widows, by Jess Montgomery


This is the debut novel by an author who goes by the name Jess Montgomery. If you read the book you might think, gosh, this is quite the polished work by a first-time author. Well, I'll let you in on a secret; this is the first novel by the writer known as Jess Montgomery but that is actually the new pen name for an author who has published a number of previous books.

This story is set in southern Ohio during the mid-1920's. If you listen to the interview you'll learn the details of how a true story about the first female sheriff in Ohio history provided the kernel for the work of imagination that was ultimately created. It is an historical murder mystery that reads like a thriller.

This is a story about the growing friendship between two women. Both of them are widows. One of them is the widow of the former sheriff of the county. He had been murdered under strange circumstances.  His widow was then appointed sheriff with the obvious intention of letting her become a placeholder of sorts until they could hold an election and fill that post again with another man. But this woman is no placeholder. She begins to investigate the murder of her husband and discovers that he was a man with many secrets. One of his secrets relates to his previous relationship with another woman, the other widow, and this leads to the growing friendship between the two widows of the book's title.

It takes place in a coal mining community. Life for the men who labored in the mines and their families was very difficult. The mine owners were brutally suppressing dissent by employing hired thugs to quash any unrest or attempts to unionize the miners. This setting provides the backdrop for a tale that depicts the cruelty of life in those mining towns of a century ago.

Listen to the interview to discover the identity of the author who is writing this new series as Jess Montgomery and her reasons for doing so under that new pen name.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro LibraryWright Memorial Public Library, and Microsun Lamps.

Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.