DEATH OF THE LAST VILLISTA: A Texana Jones Mystery

Allana Martin, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-26573-1

The best parts of Martin's fifth Texana Jones mystery (after 2000's Death of a Myth Maker) are the lyrical descriptions of the setting, the gritty Texas border country along the Pecos River. When a travel writer dismisses her own town of Polvo as "a hot, dreary little place full of barking cur dogs," Texana, who runs a trading post, agrees but adds, "On a clear day the sky above is pale turquoise, the dust motes turn the harsh sunlight golden, and the shadows of mesquite leaves dance in the wind." More of this kind of strong, thoughtful writing might have helped energize Martin's plot and characterization, both of which tend to flop like limp tortillas. Forty years earlier, a Hollywood film crew came to Polvo to make a movie about Pancho Villa. A project adviser, who as a boy had served with Villa, was found murdered on an island between Texas and Mexico, and the crime was never solved. Now a television crew has come to town to do a documentary, and everybody connected to the film becomes both a suspect and a possible victim of a vindictive assailant who emerges from the mists of the past to blow up motor homes and generally cause trouble. Texana was a child extra in the film and now finds a link between her late mother and the murdered Villista. Central to the story's resolution are Texana and her husband, Clay, the local vet. Most readers will have left by then, perhaps headed for Polvo to sample the scenery. (Aug. 20)

Reviewed on: 07/02/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-373-26434-6
Ebook - 978-1-250-10493-9
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