The Oklahoma winter of 1912 is only a shade tougher than sleuthing farm wife Alafair Tucker.
You’d blame well better be tough when you’ve got a husband and nine kids to do for on a farm only a few notches up from hardscrabble. On top of that, suppose you have reason to believe that one of your kids—maybe the gentlest and most innocent of the lot—is complicit in a murder. Seventeen-year-old Phoebe, her mother suddenly comes to realize, has fallen head over heels for John Lee Day, a troubled boy from the neighboring farm. What troubles John Lee most is his rascally father Harley, a bottom-feeder who abuses and exploits him. But now somebody’s done John Lee the favor of pumping a bullet into the old buzzard’s worthless skull. That someone could well have been young John Lee, tormented once too often, maybe aided and abetted by love-stricken Phoebe. Faced with a situation so full of dismal potential, what’s a mother to do but turn detective? Tough and durable, she’s also bright and quick and, like the English counterpart in whose tradition she takes a comfortable place, confident of the intuitive powers she flexes on the ample supply of Harley haters in nearby Boynton and environs.
A promising debut, with homespun Alafair starring as a countrified Miss Marple.