From Publishers Weekly
Delta mystery writer Haines returns to Jexville, Miss. (Touched
), for the adventures of Dixon Sinclair, a big-city reporter who moves to the small town to stop drinking and start publishing a local weekly. Haunted by doubts about the guilt of the man convicted of killing her father, Dixon stands up to Big Jim Welford of the local board of ed, pursues the teacher he fires then reinstates in secret, photographs a defiled statue of the Virgin Mary, aids Sheriff J.D. Horton in a search for two missing teenagers and still has time for lunch at the diner with the town's nicest woman (a Methodist minister) and its richest (the bank president's wife). Haines's portraits of a Mexican immigrant's religious turmoil and the relationship between the bank president's daughter and her reclusive fisherman lover are complex and touching; the bank president and his wife seem like caricatures in comparison. Haines builds suspense with images of violent crime and the thrill of breaking news, then undermines it by chasing too many leads, stopping only for mind-numbing recaps of suspects and clues. Her uneven storytelling is mitigated, though, by a resilient, likable heroine. (Oct.)
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Haines, author of the Sarah Booth Delaney series, also set in the Mississippi Delta, turns here to journalist Dixon Sinclair. Returning to her mother's birthplace, Jexville, to live in the family house, Dixon pours her life savings into buying the Inde
pendent, Jexville's weekly newspaper. She hopes to carry on the work of her father, a newspaper publisher murdered in a bomb blast, if she can overcome various ghosts from her past and a drinking problem that is definitely in the present. When two teenage girls disappear and a statue of the Virgin Mary is mutilated, Dixon covers the story, which is complicated further when an odd religious shrine is found in the swamp, along with the severely mutilated body of one of the girls. Haines seamlessly switches points of view among Dixon, the sheriff, and swamp denizen Eustace, all different on the surface but alike in their struggle with self-doubt. With vivid imagery and subtle character development, Haines crafts a story as rich as a thick slice of Mississippi mud pie. But there's nothing sweet about what's happening in Jexville. Jenny McLarinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved