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    STRAWMAN'S HAMMOCK by Darryl Wimberley

    FEATURING DETECTIVE BARRETT RAINES

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

    Florida State Detective Barrett Raines wants to do his job and is attracted by the idea of becoming the first African American sherriff in his rural county, but his latest case, a young woman murdered by being chained to a wall and killed by a dog, haunts his actions. It brings back his early memories of his father's death, and threatens to unravel the carefully drawn fiction of his life. The case develops in layers as more and more of man's deep tendency toward evil becomes revealed.

    Author Darryl Wimberley (see other reviews of works by this author) writes convincingly about the rural countryside and the men and women of multiple races who live and work together and who leave such permanent scars on one another. Raines's clear affection for his wife and children both humanize him and help drive the story forward.

    The final quarter of the novel is its weakest. I could sometimes feel Wimberley manipulating the plot to confuse the reader and add another suspect to the plot. Although my overall reading experience was very positive and I certainly recommend STRAWMAN'S HAMMOCK, the final chapters did not live up to the potential offered in the first three quarters.

    Three Stars

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