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High Lonesome Road
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425184552, Mass Market Paperback)Penzler Pick, March 2001: To talk about murder in a bookmobile is to invite jokes about those cozy mysteries where "hard-boiled" describes only the deviled egg platter at some PTA lunch. However, in Betsy Thornton's High Lonesome Road, that's just where it does occur, mere pages into her second novel featuring Chloe Newcombe.
This complicated, stubborn, and likeable heroine, who made her debut in The Cowboy Rides Away, is a divorced New Yorker now transplanted to Arizona's high desert region where she's taken a job as a victim's advocate with the county attorney's office. (Her creator writes from on-the-job experience: Thornton herself works helping crime victims and witnesses in a rural Arizona county.) Here Chloe must again endure a wrenching personal involvement, this time because the murdered woman (the bookmobile driver whose body has been found riddled with bullets, a book clutched to her chest) had long ago been a friend of Chloe's adored older brother, himself also now dead and deeply mourned.
Thornton has been described as a writer possessing "a real feeling for those whose nerves have been rubbed raw by life" (Publishers Weekly). Cochise County, Arizona, after all, is a catchment area for the outcast, the oddball, the loner, and the lost soul, a place where even the ordinary citizens have made a definite choice about how much--or how little--mileage to keep between themselves and the dangerous edge. And, as Chloe Newcombe says, "Let's face it, none of us goes that innocently about our lives. We live with anger and pain every day, live in secrecy; it's just part of living." Her quest for the truth leads to the usual scabbed-over ancient crime and the usual desperate need to forget/remember, and Chloe holds our attention because she is an unusual figure keeping to a set of rules all her own. Like Elwood Reid's Midnight Sun, another recent book set in a vividly evoked harsh landscape (off-the-map Alaskan back country), High Lonesome Road is as compelling for its psychic geography as it is for its unspooling mystery plot. Thornton's noir is desert-bleached, touched with a feminine sensibility, but tough all the same. --Otto Penzler
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:14 -0400)
Chloe has a full life and the more rewarding job of helping witnesses and survivors of crimes and accidents. When a bookmobile librarian is found riddled with bullets, Chloe is braced for the worst but not for the shock of actually knowing the victim.
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