Journalist Florio’s story about a friend’s murder arrives crammed with atmosphere and intriguing characters.
Foreign correspondent Lola Wicks reluctantly returns from an assignment in Afghanistan, where she’s been holed up with a pool of reporters covering the conflict for so long that the dust, danger and shadowy way of life have become second nature. So when Lola ends up back in Baltimore to meet with an upstart young editor, she’s already sporting an attitude. When the editor informs her the newspaper is shutting down its overseas bureaus to concentrate on local news, Lola doesn’t take it well. A rebel and a loner, she heads for a short, preplanned visit with her close friend Mary Alice, also a former staffer at the paper. Mary Alice had taken an earlier buyout and moved to Montana, where she bought a cabin and went to work at the local paper. But when Lola arrives at the small airport, there’s no Mary Alice to greet her. Annoyed and in a hurry to return to Afghanistan, with or without the paper’s backing, Lola rents a car and drives up to her friend’s cabin deep in the woods near a tiny town called Magpie. But instead of a short reunion with Mary Alice, she finds her friend has been murdered, leaving behind her dog, a horse and a trail of clues that only someone like Lola, who knows her well, could follow. Lola plans to get out of town, but the sheriff has other ideas, and soon, she starts looking into her friend’s homicide, making friends and enemies along the way. Florio dips into her own background to make the protagonist competent and believable. Although it’s a bit difficult to buy Lola as a grizzled veteran at the tender age of 34, the author does a great job of writing a book that’s both evocative of the Montana countryside and a satisfying, hair-raising ride.
A promising debut.