Sixtyish Louisa Daniel investigates some genealogical mysteries in a small West Texas town in Hall's whimsical second mystery (after 2000's Social Graces) to feature the California social worker. Louisa and her daughter, Emily Kristich, set off for Texas because Louisa's Aunt Atie has died and Louisa was named her executor. Atie (aka Erato) was one of nine daughters, all named after one of the Muses, most of whom are still living in the same town. While Louisa is the one with a duty to perform, Emily is the one with a mission. Her college roommate, Laurel, married a West Texas boy named Dwayne Ed Twerms, had twins and then simply disappeared. That was many years ago, and when Emily meets up with Dwayne, she is determined to find out what happened. Confusion and conflict over mineral rights, an officious sheriff who seems to be a law unto himself, a lot of snapping and snipping among the surviving aunts and, above all, the swaggering and bullying of Dwayne Ed Twerms keep Louisa and Emily moving from one jam to another: there's an axe murder, rattlesnakes, thunderstorms and a near lynching. Hall might have done better using fewer ingredients and mixing them more thoroughly, but she still serves up a filling dish.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Malinda Hall has lived in six states, one of which is Texas. After attending Southern Methodist University, she graduated from the University of Tulsa. Currently she is a speech therapist living in Northern California with her husband, dog and two cats. This is the second in the Louisa Daniel mystery series.