cover image Mineral Spirits

Mineral Spirits

Heather Sharfeddin, . . Bridge Works, $21.95 (249pp) ISBN 978-1-882593-98-9

Sharfeddin's second western (after 2005's Blackbelly ) is a sharp, perceptive blend of crime and contemporary life issues. When 10-year-old Gray Dausman reports a badly decomposed body near the Clark Fork River, Kip Edelson, the new sheriff of Montana's sparsely populated Mineral County, is impressed by the boy's bravery, but becomes concerned after he learns about Gray's troubles at home. A tip about the female corpse's identity leads the sheriff to investigate area women with names similar to "Chris," including Gray's missing mother, Kristi Blackhorse, and Christen Vining, the sister of Randy McHugh, owner of a popular tavern. Complicating the situation is the twisted relationship Randy has with Christen, the wife of a drug dealer Kip kills in self-defense. Tight and emotionally satisfying, this impressive novel should gain the author new readers. (Oct.)