High Lonesome Road

Betsy Thornton, Author
Betsy Thornton, Author Thomas Dunne Books $23.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-26861-9
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Hardcover - 978-1-84617-520-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-425-18455-4
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Following her impressive debut, The Cowboy Rides Away (1996), Thornton triumphs in this sequel, which makes even minor characters memorable and firmly places them in the stark but weighted atmosphere of the Southwest desert. Chloe Newcombe, a victim's counselor for the Dudley, Ariz., police department, is reluctant to reconnect with bookmobile driver Erica Hill, because Erica was an old friend of Chloe's dead brother, James. Weeks later, after someone shoots Erica in her bookmobile, Chloe wonders if a phone call from her could have saved the woman's life. Feeling culpable, Chloe starts to investigate and discovers that Erica had been reaching out to many in her last days. Although the police are holding Erica's golden son, Troy, Chloe can't believe the teenager had anything to do with his mother's death. And Stuart Ross, the ponytailed defense attorney, didn't admit his past relationship with Erica, but that doesn't mean he killed her. The more Chloe digs, the more she realizes that the strong, free-spirited Erica antagonizedDas well as intriguedDjust about everyone she met. As Chloe closes in on the killer, she feels the strain of an earlier death she inadvertently participated inDcommitted by a man she once loved. The refusal of the author to neatly tie up that earlier event is one of the many strengths of this book. Its ability to succeed as both a mystery and character study is certainly another, and if Thornton, a victim's advocate in Bisbee, Ariz., can be persuaded to produce books more regularly, she could establish herself as a major new voice. (Mar. 5)
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