John Douglas, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-312-05097-9
Awkward sentences and a meditative rhythm prevent this mystery from being either suspenseful or exciting. Detective Edward Harter of Shawnee, W. Va., first met in Douglas's praiseworthy Shawnee Alley Fire , is assigned to identify the woman whose skeleton is unearthed from a secret grave. Since the bones show no evidence of violence, Harter's first task is to determine the cause of death. He begins by questioning residents in the vicinity of the grave site; his interviews with Matt Curry prove most fruitful. Curry, the second narrator of the novel, ruminates on the illicit love affair that ended in tragedy 20 years ago. Calamity continues to strike as Harter and his partner, Dave McManaway, are frustrated by a murder that happens practically before their eyes. Harter's powers of observation are further taxed by a deadly encounter with a murder suspect. His investigation is hampered by the lack of cooperation of Shawnee residents and the sensation-hungry media. As he and McManaway discover, guilty secrets cause a particular kind of punishment. Douglas accurately conveys the regionalisms and speech of West Virginia, yet the narrative is marred by underdeveloped characters and unnecessary subplots that slow its pace. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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