SNOW ON THE ROSES by John R. Riggs


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All of Riggs's anatomies of Oakalla, Wisconsin (Killing Frost, 1995, etc.), have been elegies to small-town life, but his 11th is especially grief-soaked because of Oakalla Reporter editor Garth Ryland's intimacy with the victims. Ninety-year-old Dr. Bill Airhart, ""the closest thing to an icon that we had in Oakalla,"" was not only Garth's mentor and longtime friend, but the uncle of his lover, Dr. Abby Airhart, and he's shocked when the old man dies in his bed--though not too shocked to suspect foul play, especially after he realizes that Doc Airhart was killed right before the newspaper was to serialize his memoirs for 1962, the year retarded Dewey Clinton insists he found two bodies near Wildwood Bridge. It looks like a safely archival job for chickenhearted deputy Eugene Yuill--except that Eugene's been murdered, too, as Garth confirms when he finds his body buried in the backyard of the late Dewey Clinton. There'll be still more deadly discoveries, including a macabre find in Doc Airhart's private morgue, before Garth closes the circle between ancient history and a present-day killer who can't let it rest. The delayed-action plot is as underplayed as you'd expect from Riggs. This time, though, the cast, as if in mourning for Doc Riggs and Eugene Yuill, is uncommonly subdued, too: Except for Garth himself, all the most memorable characters are dead.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Barricade