Monday, May 11, 2009

Janet LaPierre's Run a Crooked Mile

Review of Janet LaPierre's Run a Crooked Mile
by Betty Webb (originally appeared in Mystery Scene Magazine #109)

The sun’s out, the snow’s melted away, and we can venture outside again without our parkas. But don’t spend too much time dancing in the spring breezes, because with the sunny season there comes a new batch of mysteries eager to tempt us back to our favorite reading chairs.

Among the best is Janet LaPierre’s Run a Crooked Mile (Perseverance Press, $14.95). The old show biz warning about never following a child or an animal on stage could have come true in this tale centered around the fate of Tank, a Labrador retriever found in the forest near the body of a local woman nicknamed “Mike” who appears to be the victim of a hunting accident. Fortunately, author LaPierre, the author of nine novels in the Port Silva series, is well-aware of the dangers adorable mutts can present and thus takes care to craft Rosemary Mendes, a just-as-fascinating human character who adopts the homeless pooch.

A widow hiding out from her lunatic former in-laws, Rosemary is leading an isolated life in California’s Trinity Alps, but aided by the selfless Tank, she begins to form an almost psychic bond with the dead woman. This bond almost gets Rosemary killed when she decides that the woman was murdered, not shot by accident. But by whom and why? Solving the puzzle is more difficult than in the usual mystery novel because no one even knows “Mike’s” real name or where she came from. The characters in Mile are a fascinating lot, and the northern California setting is so meticulously detailed we can almost smell the trees and dirt. And Rosemary, bless her loner heart, makes an independent protagonist we’ll want to see more of.

Betty Webb: Author of Desert Cut, Desert Run, Desert Shadows, Desert Wives: Polygamy Can Be Murder, and Desert Noir. Coming Dec. 2009, Desert Lost, another polygamy-based mystery. Also, the humorous zoo mystery, The Anteater of Death. All by Poisoned Pen Press.

This review originally appeared in Betty Webb's "Small Press Reviews" column in Mystery Scene Magazine, Spring #109. Reproduced by permission.

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