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    HIGH LONESOME ROAD by Betsy Thornton


    Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Minotaur, 2001

    Erica Hill managed to get into the pants of just about every man victim advocate Chloe Newcombe knew. But Erica had come to Chloe for help only days before Erica had been killed. Now, Chloe needs to help track down the killer before Erica's precious son is railroaded into taking the blame for a crime Chloe knows he didn't commit.

    About two weeks before she was murdered, Erica had suddenly started reaching out. She'd spoken to Chloe. She'd called her sister and visited a boyfriend she'd abandoned two years previously. Something had happened. Her murder might have been the result of a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time. For Chloe, the evidence points to a connection. But what had happened in Erica's life that would have led to her murder? One thing for sure, the local sheriff isn't interested in Chloe's findings. He has his man and he's going forward with the investigation in his own way.

    Set in Dudley, Arizona where aging hippies coexist with stuborn cowboys, HIGH LONESOME ROAD is a compelling mystery that author Betsy Thornton unveils in gradual layers. After a somewhat slow start, Thornton picks up the pace, treating the reader to a glimpse of the life in the southwest, a double handful of intriguing characters, and the life of a victim advocate forced to deal with her own sense of responsibility for allowing her old emotions to override her reason.

    Thornton occasionally slips into poetic language. To my surprise, I thought this actually helped make the novel stronger (usually I suspect a bit of author self-congratulation when I read this kind of language). The mystery, in particular, was well done with plenty of red herrings including some disguised enough to be convincing even to a serious mystery reader.

    HIGH LONESOME ROAD is an excellent second novel by Betsy Thornton. Highly recommended.

    Four Stars

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