cover image Death Deals a Hand: A California Zephyr Mystery

Death Deals a Hand: A California Zephyr Mystery

Janet Dawson. Perseverance (SCB, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-56474-569-9

Set in 1953, Dawson’s slow-moving follow-up to 2013’s Death Rides the Zephyr finds Jill McLeod, who works as the classic train’s Zephyrette, traveling west from Chicago through the Rockies toward the San Francisco Bay Area. As the only female crew member, McLeod has many duties, such as administering first aid, greeting passengers, and keeping them up-to-date on the train’s progress as well as the history of the areas the train passes through. The plot, which highlights day-to-day life aboard the train, doesn’t pick up steam until the last third of the book, at which point the focus is on the shooting murder of the unpleasant Mr. Fontana, a former Chicago bootlegger. McLeod must learn who had motive to kill Fontana and to frame her black sheep cousin, Doug Cleary, by planting the murder weapon in his berth. Rail enthusiasts will welcome this light mystery full of information about train travel of an earlier era. (Apr.)