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The Prairie Grass Murders (A Sylvia and Willie Mystery) Kindle Edition
|Length: 247 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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With so many novels following the same predictable path when it comes to both characters and plot, it was wonderfully refreshing to read a story in which both characters and plot are realistic. Both main characters have their little quirks and faults, but then so does everyone I know in real life.
The two mystery solving characters, a brother and sister, are immediately likeable and believable. They are neither imbued with super powers, nor do they belong to a secret alphabet agency or billionaire-funded do-good organization. They are just two curious sleuths that bring to mind Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher.
The plot is equally realistic in that it takes place in the farmlands of Illinois, instead of some exotic locale in the Middle East, the jungles of Columbia, or the slums of New York.
If you need blood, gore, casual sex and unbridled cruelty, give this one a pass. If you want your heroes to be young and perfect, it’s not for you. If you long to read vulgarity that overtaxes the keyboard’s” F” key, forget it, but if you can relate to a sleuth who dines on powder sugar mini-donuts from the vending machine instead of truffles from Provence, and a brother who declines both, don’t miss this One. My wait to read her other novels will not be nearly as long.
A hike back to the spot reveals newly plowed soil and no corpse. Suspecting a cover-up, Sylvia turns to the sheriff, her old flame, to begin piecing together clues surrounding a missing business developer and the corruption and secrets he may have taken to his grave. For Sylvia, the seemingly obvious solution has a darker spectre--one that follows her home to Florida,where danger stalks her in her own backyard.
I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued when I read the first page of the book, an excerpt from chapter one.
"Damn." Willie let his breath go with a whoosh."Bird, dead bodies have given me nightmares ever since 'Nam." He took a deep breath. "But I guess I better check this out."
Moving closer to the brambles, Willie leaned over and pulled some of the stalks apart, painfully snagging his fingers in the process.Above the shoe, a strip of black sock led to the bottom edge of a black pant leg. Willie dropped the brush back into place.
Good place to hide a body, he thought. A raspberry patch picked clean of berries wouldn't get any attention before next year's berry-picking season. And if this patch had been pulled and stacked up for burning, or hauling, the body might never turn up.
Willie shook his head in disbelief. Why did this keep happening to him?
In chapter one, with a keen eye for descriptive narration and dialogue, Patricia Stoltey takes us with Willie to the body, and then into the Lincoln County Hospital where he's going to be subjected to a psychiatric evaluation, thanks to the local deputy who caught him in the grass. But first, he's going to call his sister, a Florida judge. I know exactly what she'll say, he thinks at the end of the chapter.
This is a thought that foreshadows an important insight about him that will be useful later in the plot. It's an insight that comes from his sister at the end of chapter two: "The other thing he's good at is readingpeople--feeling vibes and sensing when something isn't right."
Chapter one is third person viewpoint, through Willie's eyes. At the end of the chapter when Willie thinks he knows what his sister will say,"he shrugged and blew a little puff of air through his lips as he imagined Judge Sylvia Thorn's reaction." And then, the next sentence we read is the beginning of chapter two.
"Ow, ouch! Blast it, Tak!" I shouted.
Is this Willie talking? Doesn't sound like him. But through snappy dialogue we immediately know we're now in first person viewpoint, and Sylvia is talking with Tequila Picon(Tak), a colorful character who will soon disappear and then reappear near the end of the novel at one of the crucial twists and turns of the plot.
I'm expecting the rest of the novel to be first person. But it's not. However, since Willie is a man of fewer words than his sister is, it makes sense that his third-person sections are few.
The viewpoint also serves to emphasize the differences between the protagonists. Willie is the reticent Vietnam veteran who suffers from a traumatic war shock and eats healthy food. Outgoing Sylvia is nine years younger than her sibling, and the savvy Florida judge who, in the words of her doting mother with whom she concurs, has "a wild side." She eats a lot of junk food while Willie silently rolls his eyes.
There are many colorful characters, snappy dialogue, and descriptive passages in this story that twists and turns to the last suspenseful page. A very satisfying read.
Willie Grisseljon is taking a well-deserved vacation back in central Illinois where he grew up. Hiking through the backroads and fields that he knew as a child, he finds a dead body beneath a pile of debris. As he's walking to town to tell the police of his discovery, he's stopped by a policeman. The policeman's reaction is to take Willie's identification and haul him off to the county hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
When he can get to a phone, he calls his sister, Sylvia Thorn, who just happens to be a circuit court judge in Palm Beach County, Florida. Sylvia clears her docket and heads to central Illinois. When she and her brother go to find the body, the pile of debris is much higher, and the body can't be seen. The two go to town to tell the sheriff-- and Sylvia finds out he's her old high school flame. It also isn't long before she knows that something's not right in Sangamon City, Illinois, and that trouble is going to follow them both all the way back to Florida.
I really liked the two main characters. Sylvia is a level-headed woman in her fifties who doesn't panic. Her profession has taught her how to deal with all the various law enforcement agencies, and she uses her contacts to good effect. Her brother, Willie, is a Vietnam vet who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. This has given him a few quirks, but he deals with them. He's a highly intelligent man who has built and run a successful small business, and he does his bit to help those in need. Sylvia knows that it's always a good idea to follow Willie's intuition.
Although I thought the villains were rather easy to identify in this book, "who" didn't matter as much as "why", and I found the "why" very interesting. With two very strong main characters, I hope this series is in for a good, long run.
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