The last time anyone in Cottonwood County, Wyoming saw Sheriff's Deputy Foster Redus, he was bloody, cussing, and driving his pimped-out pickup into the November darkness. A week before Christmas, rancher Thomas David Burrell was arrested for the assault and charged with the deputy's murder, since neither Redus nor his truck had been seen since the Monday after Thanksgiving. The prosecutor later set Burrell free due to insufficient evidence, but with the whole county still suspecting him of the crime, his ex-wife refused to let their daughter visit him anymore. "You've got to prove my Daddy didn't kill anybody," second grader Tamantha Burrell tells KWMT-TV's consumer affairs reporter, New York transplant Elizabeth Daniher. "Now wait a minute . . . " the startled journalist begins."You're the 'Helping Out' lady," Tamantha insists. "You have to help me."Until a few months ago, Elizabeth "E.M." Daniher investigated high crimes and national cases. Now, a messy divorce from her network-TV-exec husband, combined with her no-longer-quite-perky-enough sex appeal, has banished her to Wyoming, where she has to fulfill the remainder of her contract. She handles the "Helping Out" segment at Sherman, Wyoming's only news station. Her latest assignment: assisting an elderly woman who wants her faulty toaster replaced. But Tamantha needs her, and so Elizabeth goes back on the crime beat, trying to unravel the mystery of the missing deputy and track down a killer who intends to make sure she doesn't live to go Live At Five with the scoop.
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- Classic Lit Fan
Engaging characters make great start to new series
I liked it! It is well written, well read, and definitely entertaining. The writer knows how to put a good sentence together, and while the story evolves somewhat slowly, it held my attention and moved along without rambling. I'd have given the story five stars, except for its unusual pace, although in fairness, a slower start provides added emphasis to the fish-out-of-water story of a big-city reporter and her introduction to life in the great open West. Rather than a more traditional mystery format that puts the crime up front with a bang, the writer uses several beginning chapters to set out characters and background. I tend to prefer the straightforward thriller, but this story's central character is an easily relatable recently divorced female reporter, and the writer's intentions are clearly to develop her, as well has her exploits, in new directions. All the time used to explain this character, then, and where she is at the moment is not wasted, and thanks largely to the narrator's lively approach and distinct voices (good male voices too, which is hard for many female narrators), the character-driven chapters that begin the story with an introduction to interesting people and places as opposed to nefarious acts make a fun and funny listen, even for a more action-oriented listener, like myself.
The main character, for whom the narrator's voice was just perfect, is matter-of-fact at times, but always extremely likable. While she is not unlike other determined female leads in sundry best-selling mystery and crime series, I am reminded more of the woman in the TV series The Good Wife--a story driven by the interactions of groups of characters you can like and relate to, with a strong female at the forefront.
For a listener more accustomed to action than character, the energetic narration through the beginning chapters held my interest, I think, more than might have been the case with the written page. Actually, the story includes a multitude of characters, and rather than finding them too many, the several distinct voices made this most enjoyable. Some of these voices--the male voices in particular--were raspy or resonate or otherwise filled with a character that made me more immediately picture the individual than if I had been reading.
A smart, professional reporter takes on a totally unfamiliar environment and never backs down from the challenge, even when it looks like a murder, or could be her own.
There will be a Part Two (there are more books in the series, apparently) and I'll be there when they are released on Audible. Definitely worth a credit.
- Margaret Thompson