I started this re-read a few weeks ago in anticipation of a buddy read that kind of fizzled. Hey, it happens.
My objective was to solve the last lingering puzzle - for me - that a dozen readings had left unsolved.
The same had happened with Michaels' Be Buried in the Rain. I must have read it ten times or more before I finally found the missing clue that answered the last question.
Houses of Stone retains its secret.
I've read most of Michaels' gothics, and I have to say they're hit or miss with me. Houses of Stone, despite many readings, is pretty much a hit. It has its problems, and there's still the issue of one unsolved mystery, but I enjoy the story and I enjoy the characters.
Professor Karen Holloway has come into possession of a mysterious 19th century manuscript of a novel by an unidentified woman author. The physical manuscript is damaged and missing some pages, but Karen has staked her academic reputation on both deciphering the fading script and identifying the author.
Her partner in adventure is Professor Margaret "Peggy" Finneyfrock, one of my favorite sidekick/mastermind characters of all time. This story would be nothing without her.
The rest of the supporting characters are great, too. Michaels isn't afraid to poke a little fun at the stereotype of romantic hero, but she doesn't rob him of all his dignity either. She does, however, strip away the polite facades of many other stereotypes and does so with almost fiendish glee.
Set in the Virginia Tidewater region, this fits the Southern Gothic Halloween Bingo square.