In the latest Shirley McClintock mystery (Dead in the Scrub), Oliphant's 6'3"", nearly 60-year-old, former FBI agent, has begun a new life as innkeeper on an old ranch just north of Santa Fe, N. Mex. along with her 14-year-old adopted daughter Allison. Despite McClintock's painful recovery from a knee operation, everything seems to be falling into place at Rancho del Valle, when a guest dies mysteriously, leaving behind only her name on the ledger, a phone credit card number and a car without license plates. The sullen, sensitive McClintock wonders who she was and why the other guests seem unaffected by the death. Oliphant (aka Sheri S. Tepper) fills her mystery with characters facing their own hidden dramas, including McClintock, who aside from the murder, faces the threat of losing Allison. Teen pregnancy, the Pope's rejection of contraception and his criticism of women for not embracing patriarchal religion, controversies over delayed memory and McClintock's obsession with a documentary on the Salem witch hunts also come in to play. Oliphant's occasionally heavy-handed point is that between the talks shows, the tabloids and the evening news, nothing sounds too unreal to be true anymore. As her heroine says, ``I'm afraid we've got a generation of citizens who are illiterate in science but summa cum laude in superstition.'' (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994 Release date: 10/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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