Chloe Newcomb, a victim advocate working out of the county attorney’s office in Dudley, Arizona, bumps into her past when Erica Hill, her older brother’s dearest friend during their hippie days in California, appears at one of her training lectures. Two weeks later, on her new job driving the bookmobile, Erica parks it at Dot Stone’s house and is shot dead. While the intrepid Dot announces she got a good look at the killer—a lie to draw him out—Chloe is called in to counsel Erica’s co-workers at the library. Erica’s boss Neva didn’t like her, while Andy Marookian liked her a lot, until she dumped him. But it’s Sally Smith who is most terrified, blurting out that “he” is going to kill her too. What and whom did Erica and Sally have in common? Chloe traces the thread connecting them from a time 17 years ago when she envied Erica’s impact on men to the moment when Erica attended a therapy group where she met and swapped horror stories with Sally. Chloe will come to suspect ex-cowboys and a defense lawyer, while sluggish detective Ed Masters, father of eight (maybe nine), will accuse Erica’s son Troy. The climactic shootout finds all hands staking out Dot’s property, and Dot blazing away with a double-barrel.
Offbeat characters and countryside, a strong story, and another interesting installment of the past that informed Chloe’s debut (The Cowboy Rides Away, 1996) and returns here via snippets about her brother, her married lover Kyle, and poor Erica. But it’s Chloe herself who’s the keeper.