cover image The Hangings

The Hangings

Bill Pronzini. Walker & Company, $17.95 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-4082-3

Rivalling Quincannon and Pronzini's other western mysteries, his latest conveys the atmosphere of small-town northern California in the late 1890s. The constable of Tule Bend, Linc Evans, describes eerie events set off by the hanging of a stranger, Jeremy Bodeen, followed by that of his brother when he arrives in town after being wired the bad news. A third hanging brings no clue to the apparently invisible hangman's identity nor hint of the reason for the crimes. Accused by the sheriff and the mayor of dragging his feet, Linc hunts the elusive killer while also taking time to visit his secret sweetheart, Hannah Dalton. Hannah and her only female friend, Mrs. Jubal Parsons, are both considered ``scarlet women'' by Linc's sister and her envious clique. Ashamed of not courting Hannah openly, Linc learns a lesson from the denouement, a real shocker. (Jan.)