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THE ALPINE XANADU
by Mary Daheim
Ballantine, January 2013
336 pages
$26.00
ISBN: 0345535316


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

After an on-again-off-again courtship that has lasted almost seventeen years, Emma Lord, owner and publisher of the Alpine Advocate, and Sheriff Milo Dodge are at long last getting married. The only flies in the ointment are Milo's not exactly ex-wife who has turned up in Alpine with fantasies of a reconciliation, and their drug addict daughter who checks herself in and out of rehab almost as often as most of us go to the grocery store. She stays clean only when she's staying with her father, which really puts a crimp in Emma and Milo's plans.

Meanwhile, Alpine is welcoming a new rehab and mental health facility, RestHaven . However, an unfortunate event occurs before the official opening. Wayne Eriks has climbed an electrical pole in a storm, not wearing gloves and has been apparently electrocuted. Only Milo smells something fishy -- not at all convinced that this was an accident. He is later proved right when it is found that Eriks was poisoned.

There is the usual supporting cast from Alpine, some of whom are beginning to wear. Vida Runkle, Emma's House and Home editor, appears every day with a new hat. Either Alpine has a thriving milliner or Vida concocts these chapeaux herself. Despite all evidence, Vida refuses to believe that her grandson Roger is nothing other than a cad. The universe has conspired to ruin his life. Very endearing are Leo, the Advocate's advertising manager and Mitch, the sole reporter.

A nit to pick. Emma (who is clearly well into middle age) asks Milo is he would mind if she uses her "maiden name" after they marry. Emma hasn't been a maiden since at least 1972 when her affair with the married Tom Cavanaugh produced a son.

There's much still to wonder about in coming books, though the series seems to be running down. Will Vida ever run out of hats? Will she ever come to her senses about Roger? Will The Advocate continue in these dire economic times? (Daheim has only "Y" and "Z" left.)

Mary Elizabeth Devine taught English Literature for 35 years, is co-author of five books about customs and manners around the world and lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Reviewed by Mary Elizabeth Devine, March 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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