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Excuse me, but I gotta say it: this book is one sharp object. There's lots of crime procedrals out there; you know, same old stuffthere's a crime, there's victims, there's clues and interviews, there's bizzrre trails of misfortunes, there's action scenes, there's a reveal, there's solution. The protagonist is a seeker; a PI, cop, lawyer, a relative, a reporter. What separates Miss Marple from, say, Vic Warshawski, is the voice.

Camille "Cubby" Preaker is a 1st person narrator like no other. She's a reporter for the Daily Post, a 4th-rate rag from Chitown, who is sent back to her home town of Wind Gap"at the very bottom of Missouri, in the boot heel"(p.3)to investigate the serial murders of two, pre-pubscent girls who have been strangled but not raped, and have had all their teeth pulled, post-mortum. They've been dumped at different sites, and the investigation is so stifled, it hasn't even discovered the killing floor, let alone a viable suspect. Police chief Vickery is overwhelmed and the detective sent from Kansas CityRichard Willisis considered by locals a smug kid, just biding his time.

The investigation is a convoluded mess of red herrings, false fronts, and seething, covert hostilities. But the real jumble is Camille herself. Now, she's our only window, so we gotta stick with her. She's very, very odd; fanicful, impacked, diffident, and most certainly dubitable. Half the fun is sorting out her mysteries. The other half is a trail of clues and anecdotes, witty observations, and quite a few quirky characterizations. There's never a dull moment and always a beguiling situation just around the corner. This story unfolding is like watching an English peony bloom in all its petaled complexity.

 

 

 

 

 

text only © copyright 05/19/2015 by Larry Crawford

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