Dead Letter

John R. Riggs, Author Barricade Books $15.95 (251p) ISBN 978-0-942637-40-3
Riggs's ( The Last Laugh ) seventh story featuring Garth Ryland encases an authentic depiction of rural Wisconsin life in a thinly stretched plot. The morning after the local trash collector, deaf dwarf Amel Pilkin, is seen celebrating in the Corner Bar and Grill, he is found dead in his truck, the garbage barrels missing from the truck and a contusion on the back of his head. Nobody, including new sheriff Whitey Huffer, agrees with Ryland that Pilkin was murdered. But bull-headed Ryland, editor of the Oakalla Reporter , questions everyone who could have seen Pilkin on the day he died. Only Huffer, who is angry that Ryland didn't back him in a recent election, takes exception to Ryland's investigation. As he scrapes back the town's harmonious veneer, Ryland discovers rivalries, love affairs and jealousies as well as proof that Pilkin was indeed murdered. Flimsy clues and Ryland's failure to turn up new information until the finale leave readers with little incentive to stick with the languid pace and mundane characters of Oakalla. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
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