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by Letha Albright
Oak Tree Press, July 2000
250 pages
ISBN: 1892343126

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Viv Powers is a reporter for the local paper who has been living with Charley Pack, a rock musician, for the past 8 years. They've put down roots in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Needless to say, Viv is speechless when Charley is arrested for the murder of his producer, Gil Martin, who also happens to be his ex-wife's husband and his daughter's stepfather. Viv can't imagine that he is capable of such an act of violence. But anything is possible if it had to do with Charley's daughter, Heather. It's very difficult to figure out what happened, as Charley is not talking to anyone.

Viv is determined to find out the truth. Curiously, she never really expresses any love for Charley, her main concern being about being able to stay in the house that is in his name even if he is convicted of the crime. This distanced the reader from Charley, in that one of the most significant people in his life didn't seem strongly connected to him emotionally. Understanding the character of Viv is further complicated by her initial willingness to frame somebody for the crime in order to free Charley.

A connected story intersects the main narrative. Tommy Hoffing has recently escaped from the prison psychiatric facility in Tulsa. Originally, he was convicted of the brutal murder of James and Sylvia Blackinwater. Now there' s another series of crimes occurring that seem to bear his signature. Could he have been the killer of Martin?

Albright writes beautifully; but in this case, a positive becomes a negative. She creates lush descriptive passages that are poetic in their lyricism. However, these passages are constantly interjected into the narrative, which slows down the pace. For example, as she drives to Tulsa to visit Charley to resolve issues, there are these beautiful descriptions of the setting when the author should be building tension about the events of the story.

The conclusion of the book is well done. There are many threads that need to be resolved, and they are without a lot of unnecessary explication. The reader is never 100% certain about who is guilty and who is innocent and what will become of Viv and Charley. Albright has created an interesting lead character, one who is somewhat flawed and not entirely sympathetic, but one that I want to follow into what is hopefully a series.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, August 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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