cover image A Thousand Falling Crows

A Thousand Falling Crows

Larry D. Sweazy. Prometheus Books/Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-63388-084-9

In 1933, Texas Ranger Sonny Burton, the hero of Sweazy’s murky mystery, loses an arm in a shoot-out with Bonnie and Clyde. Sonny resigns from the Rangers and sinks into despair, until a plea for help from Aldo Hernandez, the janitor at the hospital where he’s recuperating, yanks him out of his emotional tailspin. Sonny sets out to find Aldo’s runaway daughter, Carmen, presently cohabiting with bootleggers Edberto Renaldo and his identical twin brother, Eberto. Meanwhile, Sonny worries that he’ll never find justice for a string of young women a killer has left rotting on the roadside. Sweazy (See Also Murder) handles his two plots unevenly: the emotional complexity of Carmen’s relationship with the brothers and the racy momentum of the crime spree they embark on divert attention from the mystery of the dead women, which dwindles to a flat resolution. Still, the book succeeds in bringing to life Depression-era Texas: in particular, the virtues of its self-sufficient citizens and its dusty landscape. Agent: Cherry Weiner, Cherry Weiner Literary Agency. (Jan.)