Rosedale, N.M., 1923: The excitement of the annual rodeo is surpassed only by the preaching of a visiting evangelist, and of course by homicide.
About the only people in town who have no interest in the gospel as spewed out by the Rev. Strickland, an itinerant preacher, are Annabelle Blue and her bratty younger brother Jack. Annabelle is consumed with hopes of at least one great adventure before settling down with Phil Gunderson. Jack just wants to swing a bat like his hero Babe Ruth. Unfortunately for Annabelle, her beau not only comes in second to cowboy Kenny Sawyer at the rodeo challenges, he seems bedazzled by the preacher’s angelically perfect sister Esther. Despite being engaged, Kenny has never met a married woman he didn’t want to canoodle with, so when he’s poisoned, no one is much surprised. It’s more of a sensation when town gossip Hazel Fish, who’s been spreading rumors about Annabelle’s brother-in-law and another man’s wife, is found dead outside the revivalist tent. Unfortunately for Jack, her face has been bashed in with his baseball bat. Imagine that! Two murders in tiny Rosedale! Will there be more? Will the townsfolk share barbecue and s’mores? Will Annabelle get her man back? After much dithering, all will be resolved.
Repetitious and inanely plotted. Unless you’ve a hankering to join Annabelle in dusting the shelves of Blue’s Dry Goods, give this debut a miss.