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by Larry D. Sweazy
Seventh Street Books, May 2018
251 pages
ISBN: 1633882799

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The latest book in Larry Sweazy's Marjorie Trumaine series is, once again, set in small-town North Dakota. This time, it's January, and Sweazy captures the bone-chilling cold of winter on the prairie in 1965 so well you may find yourself shivering even in the midst of summer. But the weather isn't the only thing Sweazy captures well. Filling the pages with quick reminders of a bygone era, he recreates a world of no cell phones and unsettling secrets that lie both in our shared past and that of his characters.

Marjorie Trumaine, a freelance indexer recovering from the recent loss of her husband, is slowly finding her way ahead into a future she never could have imagined. Helping her are the members of the Ladies Aid, good-hearted, church-going women who step in to arrange food, company, and support for anyone in the community who might need it. And in January of 1965, not only does Marjorie need their support, but the Rinkerman family does, too. Their fourteen-year-old disabled daughter has disappeared, and no one holds out much hope for her survival as the freezing, snow-filled days and nights go by. While helping the new sheriff look for the girl, Marjorie stumbles upon a murder scene, and one of the Ladies Aid members becomes the town's newest widow and most recent person in need of comfort. At her friend Darlys's urging, Marjorie sets aside her indexing work to become a member of the Ladies Aid herself. Soon, her indexer's mind is categorizing the people and events she encounters while delivering food and kind words, and she finds herself involved in the murder investigation as well as comfort-giving. When the sheriff asks her to drive to the state school for the disabled to pick up some papers he thinks will be vital to the investigation, Marjorie agrees, plunging herself deeper into the mystery and putting her own life in danger.

As with Sweazy's earlier books in this series, the pace is slow. That's not to say it drags—it simply moves at the speed of small-town life, and we spend a lot of time in Marjorie's head as she works through the mystery. Marjorie is methodical, but the events she uncovers take circuitous routes through the past and present, and people's unexpected actions and reactions further complicate situations and relationships, making them hard for Marjorie to categorize. In the end, although she has to make a life-changing decision, she does find the solution to all the mysteries that have been swirling around and proves, once again, that life in a small town may be somewhat predictable, but everyone has unexpected secrets, and life is never boring.

While the murder and the mystery of the missing girl are the main focuses of the novel, as well as Marjorie's continuing development as a character, Sweazy also examines the prevalent attitudes toward Down Syndrome and other mental disabilities in the early 1960s. Marjorie stays true to her times but also reflects the changes in thinking that were beginning to take place, and Sweazy's inclusion of two Down Syndrome characters ends up adding deeper dimension both to the story and to Marjorie's character. That, combined with Sweazy's ability to capture a place and time—and the timelessness of human emotion—makes SEE ALSO PROOF a strong addition to an already strong series.

§ Meredith Frazier, a writer with a background in English literature, lives in Dallas, Texas

Reviewed by Meredith Frazier, May 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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