Now that she’s lost her nearest neighbors, the Knudsens, to a killer (See Also Murder, 2015), it’s time for North Dakota indexer Marjorie Trumaine to lose her closest professional connection—the local librarian she constantly calls to check facts—the same way.
Not that the authorities are calling Calla Eltmore’s death murder. They’re convinced against all reason that she shot herself while she was at work at the Dickinson Public Library, where Marjorie—leaving her husband, Hank, blinded and paralyzed by a hunting accident, in the highly questionable hands of candy-striper Betty Walsh, the young girlfriend of the slain Knudsens’ son Jaeger—goes to assure herself that Calla really is gone. Later, at the viewing, Marjorie realizes that right-handed Calla never would have shot herself in the left temple. “It would take a fool not to see it,” she tells Hank, and you do have to wonder about the professionalism of Duke Parsons, acting sheriff of Stark County, and deputy Guy Reinhardt. The only person who agrees with Marjorie is the nameless woman who trips and falls on the library stairs during their first meeting and who’s carrying a copy of Men and Women that links her to Calla’s fondness for Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. A second apparent suicide narrows the list of suspects without clarifying the mystery.
In truth, Sweazy gets by on the merest wisp of mystery, along with a severe economy of incidents of any kind.