Barbed Wire

Elizabeth Fackler, Author St. Martin's Press $12.95 (165p) ISBN 978-0-312-06640-6
Fackler's new whodunit doesn't measure up to her Arson, which received critical praise. She demonstrates the same exceptional writing skills here, but the story sags under many implausible, too-red herrings. Narrator Frank James, a Texas newspaper reporter, goes to Holler, a town run by a crooked sheriff Pickles Offut. Hoping to visit his plucky friend and bed partner, Arly Walbridge, James learns she has hanged herself. Angry at what he sees as a cover-up for murder, the reporter vows to catch the killer. He meets attractive Baxter McCullough who now lives in Arly's place, and she offers to help, putting herself in jeopardy along with James. There are many sleazy types in Holler with reason to hate Arly for being an outspoken rebel. The likeliest suspects are Offut and his henchman, challenged in fierce fights by the investigator and Arly's few allies, who prevail, in a way. The author solves the mystery with a contrivance clumsier than all those preceding it. (November 17)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Mass Market Paperbound - 168 pages - 978-0-7867-0044-8
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