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THE GIRL IN THE BOSTON BOX by Chuck Latovich: Book Review

Have you ever heard of the Boston Box?  Neither had Caitlyn Gautry until she started doing research for her doctorate at Harvard.

While taking a tour of Boston’s historic Otis House, one of the other members of Carolyn’s group asks their guide about the Boston Box, which he says he had heard refers to a small secret chamber in homes built in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The benign version was that the Box was used to shelter runaway slaves; the malevolent version was that it was a room used for torture or illicit sexual activities.

The guide says that since a Box has never been found or otherwise authenticated, historians have come to believe it’s an urban legend, such as building a house over an ancient burial ground will bring death to the house’s inhabitants or a chain letter saying that if you don’t continue the chain that bad luck will befall you.  But the possibility of such Boxes fascinates Caitlyn and makes her wonder if she can incorporate the question of whether such rooms actually existed into her dissertation on Boston architecture.

Her advisor, Professor Bacht, is dismissive about her research, arrogant and insulting.  But his negative reaction has the opposite effect from what he intended, making Caitlyn more determined than ever to continue looking into the mysterious Boxes and to find out the reason they were incorporated into some of the city’s homes, if in fact they were.

At the same time as Caitlyn begins her investigation into the architectural mystery, another mystery is taking place in Boston.  Mark Chieswicz receives a call from the Boston Police telling him that his brother David is dead.  The news itself is shocking, but even more so is the information that David was found murdered, stabbed to death and left on the side of the expressway.

Mark informs the detective that he and his brother haven’t seen each other in more than two decades and that he had no idea his brother was in town.  And he’s even more surprised, actually stunned, when he’s given a file containing information about his brother, a ne’er-do-well with several prison stays behind him, who had a bank account with a balance of $633,215.38.

The Girl in the Boston Box is written in the voices of Caitlyn and Mark in alternating chapters.  At first the two characters seem to have nothing in common.  What could be the relationship between a Harvard graduate student from Pennsylvania and a forty-six-year-old man struggling to make ends meet on his part-time job as a Duck Boat tour driver?  What could possibly be the connection that draws them each into a near-death situation?

Chuck Latovich has written an intriguing mystery, one with fascinating characters, a very clever plot, and a wonderful sense of the city of Boston.  You can read more about him on various internet sites.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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