THE CONTRARY BLUES by John Billheimer


Email this review


Ever since a misplaced decimal point led the Department of Transportation to send Contrary, West Virginia, funding for twenty city buses instead of two--and to continue providing operating subsidies at that inflated level for four years--things have been looking up in the little coal town. Purvis Atkins, Contrary’s mayor, has been diverting the windfall to a city health clinic, Meals on Wheels, and so many other worthy civic enterprises that when the scandal eventually comes out, a Wall Street Journal editorial comes down on Contrary’s side. But there’s a downside to the whole arrangement, too (even if you don’t count massive taxpayer fraud): the suspiciously timely death of Transportation auditor Dwight Armitrage, followed by the intrigue that engulfs his straight-arrow successor Owen Allison, who finds himself drawn first into the bed of the bus system’s comptroller, Mary Beth Hobbs, who just happens to be the mayor’s sister; then into a coverup of the scam; and finally into a case of murder when a local crank who tries to divert the gravy train in his own direction gets himself killed by one of his hundred-plus enemies, and the cops come looking for Owen--and the only person who’ll stand up for him is his highly inconvenient ex-wife. Billheimer seasons his debut with quiet humor, warmly appealing characters, and enough inventive plot twists to make a Contrarian out of straighter arrows than Owen.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-18565-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998


MysteryPRIMARY TARGET by John Billheimer
by John Billheimer
MysteryA PLAYER TO BE MAIMED LATER by John Billheimer
by John Billheimer
MysteryFIELD OF SCHEMES by John Billheimer
by John Billheimer