The author of the popular tales of Roman sleuth Gordianus the Finder (A Mist of Prophecies, p. 458) now turns to Texas, where a teenaged girl’s disappearance casts suspicion on just about everyone.
In Amethyst (pop. 2,067), people pretty much know everyone’s business, and no one really minds. Those who do move on—like Rue Dunwitty, who grew up in Amethyst but left for college and never thought of moving back. Rue still has family in Amethyst, however, and comes home to visit. On her latest trip, something has changed: there’s an atmosphere of suspicion and dread that she’d never felt in Amethyst before. The cause seems to be the disappearance of 17-year-old Dawn Frady, who went missing about two weeks before Rue came home. Dawn was popular and a serious student, so it’s unlikely that she would have gone off on a lark. Her twin brother Dwayne declares flat-out that Dawn is dead—like many twins, he feels a kind of symbiotic link and senses that his sister has come to harm. Rue is troubled by all this but does her best to mind her own business—until she discovers the body of a naked girl at the bottom of an abandoned cistern behind her grandmother’s house. She calls the local sheriff, who seems strangely indifferent to the situation, but by the time he comes out to investigate, the body is gone. Did Rue imagine it? For that matter, did she imagine the strange lights she saw one night in the field near that cistern? Or the voice of the man who cursed her through the door of her grandmother’s house one morning? Just what the Sam Hill is going on? Rue’s boyfriend Dylan flies out from San Francisco to help her get to the bottom of things, but that’s easier said than done. This is a strange place, after all—Texas.
Taut narrative, some good characters, and a well-drawn setting: an enjoyable and suspenseful read.