THE BACKHOE GOTHIC by Jean Deweese

THE BACKHOE GOTHIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Linda Baldwin, 23, she of the ""deceptively gaminlike face,"" cuts quite a swathe in Milwaukee. She's a gung-ho student at the university, a part-time DJ on a local radio station, the inaugurator of a ""nontraditional employment"" seminar for women, and the virtuoso operator of a backhoe and front-end loader for a construction company--which is headed by widower John Draeger (whose wife seems to have been murdered a while back). Sounds like a great life, right? But there's woe ahead for Linda: Draeger's nephew Dave Jenkins, an all-round stinker who wrecked one of Draeger's machines, now intends to total Linda's Toyota because Linda's been kept on the job while Dave's been bumped; and then Linda's widower father (""the ultimate in male chauvinism"") dies, leaving Linda with 19-year-old sister Helen--a poor, shivering, timorous recluse who slavishly pampers Linda (as she did Papa) but makes up stories of attempted rape and is curiously confused about finding the body of a fierce women's libber (whose paper she'd typed). Surely Jenkins is responsible for all the dirty doings. But what about his alibi? All is explained at the close: Helen and Jenkins are buried in construction muck; Linda digs them out via her brilliant work with backhoe, bucket, and left stabilizer; Helen has a sad end; and Linda learns the truths about three murders and who put the bats in Helen's belfry. Dumb--and distinctly less cozy than such previous Deweese modern-gothics as Hour of the Cat (1980).

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1980
Publisher: Doubleday