The murder of Colonel Protheroe is a shock to everyone in St. Mary Mead, though hardly an unpleasant one. Now the vicar, who had declared that killing the detested Protheroe would be a service to the world, could be considered a suspect. And what about the faithless Mrs. Protheroe, or her lover, the young artist Lawrence Redding? Under the seemingly peaceful exterior of an English country village lurk intrigue, guilt, deception, and death. Miss Marple employs her razor-sharp mind and an intuitive understanding of criminal behavior to solve the case.
With a vibrant, versatile voice (sounding at times like an inspired mix of Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt) capable of adding subtle emotional shifts to slow-burning ballads or rocking out with the big boys, Susan Tedeschi burst on the scene at the close of the 1990s like a breath of fresh air in an era of prefab MTV teen idols. Like Raitt, Tedeschi works from a blues base, but she mixes in a strong sense of R&B and gospel, and with Back to the River, her second release for Verve Forecast, she shows that she's really starting to find herself as a songwriter, as well. Tedeschi wrote or co-wrote all but one of the 11 tracks here, and while one could still say these songs are based in her beloved blues, like Raitt, she has branched out from there to become a solid pop artist with a real and accessible vision, and the blues is just the engine under the hood. There are some wonderful moments here, including the big and funky title track, "Back to the River," which Tedeschi co-wrote with swamp pop master Tony Joe White, the sincere and solid "Learning the Hard Way," co-written with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, and the impressive "Butterfly," which Tedeschi' co-wrote with her husband, Derek Trucks.