Engstrom's crime novel lacks the originality and inventiveness of her acclaimed fantasy and mystery blend, The Northwoods Chronicles (2008). A dying man, eventually identified as smalltime gangster Wayne Haas, falls from a train near Yorktown, a hobo camp outside the small California town of West Wheaton. When the locals learn of the murder, suspicion falls on Yorktown's three residents—its "mayor," York, who's blind; Denny, a restless drifter; and Sly, a Vietnam veteran. Clover, Denny's girlfriend, who discovered Haas in the weeds, turns unlikely sleuth to find the real killer and keep West Wheaton's crooked mayor from demolishing Yorktown. Readers will easily figure out who's behind Haas's death, and the author's efforts to make hobo culture and society something to be admired come across as too simplistic to be convincing. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/13/2010 Release date: 02/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
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