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Nine Nights on the Windy Tree

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Nine Nights on the Windy Tree “In Bertha Brannon, Martha Miller has created a surprising new character who is very real, interesting and complex.  Her first adventure fraught with true-to-life issues is set amidst a myriad of increasingly amazing, yet believable plot twists and turns.  Miller is unafraid to portray life as it is, with all its blessedly messy complexities, but neighborhoods, nasty pasts and addictions, lies, deceits, and the truths we so often do not want to face.” – Therese Szymanksi, The Brett Higgins mystery series.

“Martha Miller graces us with a splendid cast of characters—people so real yu feel you know them or want to know them or are glad you don’t know them.  The relationship between the protagonist, Bertha Brannon, and her grandmother is worth the price alone?” – Joan Brury, author of The Other Side of Silence, Silent Words, Closed in Silence and Those Jordan Girls.

“Bertha Brannon’s a good woman coping with hard times.  She’s a recovering alcoholic and drug abuser who’s lonely—the grandmother who raised her is in her final years and the woman she loved left before Bertha got clean.  . . . Brannon is struggling to pay the bills with a client base of mostly battered women and juvenile offenders. . . . This is a book, in part, a message book about big issues—social conscience, racism, addiction, love and violence.”—Lisa Neff, Chicago Free Press.

“Bertha Brannon, an African-American lesbian, 18 months sober and struggling to keep her law practice afloat, returns to her office on a hot Friday afternoon looking forward to a pleasant weekend.  What’s in store for her, however, is anything but. . . . Miller has written both an engaging mystery and a compelling family drama.  Each character is fully developed and given a distinctive voice.  The principal relationship between Bertha and her grandmother, is beautifully drawn and touchingly real. . . . Miller’s descriptions illuminate but do not overpower. . . . In Bertha, Miller has presented us with an Everywoman who, for all of her faults, is sympathetic and admirable.” – Juliet Sarkessian, Lambda Book Report.

“When Martha Miller’s collection of short fiction, Skin to Skin appeared in 1998, the power of her writing marked her as an author to whom attention must be paid.  Her new novel, Nine Nights on the Windy Tree is a worthy successor to that collection, a suspenseful mystery with extras galore. . .  . Miller has lots more on her authorial mind than mystery, although the mysteries in this novel, and there are several, are compelling and suspenseful.  Her characters are richly detailed, and through them we are urged to consider the large questions of truth and betrayal, and honesty and the lies that get us through the day.” – Deborah Piefer, Bay Area Reporter.

“Miller’s prose is straightforward and highly readable.  There is very little exposition to get in the way fo the story line, and considering the large expanse of the plot, this is an asset.  Like the stressed out Brannon, the reader barely has time to catch his or her breath before a new development, whether it’s a mysterious arson next to her beloved Grandma’s house, another murder, or a rather fast-moving relationship with a female cop . . . One’s head could reel from although seemingly random happenings, though they do eventually converge. . .  Brannon is not just a private eye-type; she’s a strong-willed woman with emotions (especially towards Grandma), a level of frustration, and a murky past to confront. . . . the book is atmospheric enough to invoke a gritty and realistic world, an environment holding elements from both the “Big City” and the Spoon River Anthology.  Many elements are significant because of their believability from a local perspective—corrupt and powerful political familiar, under-the table-land dealings, and a subtle but persuasive conservatism held by the city’s power-elite. . . .Nine Nights is a gripping, locally oriented mystery that makes for a good read. “– Dominic Jesse, The Illinois Times.

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