Sheriff's investigator Rob Neill made a mess of his first case, the theft of sacred artifacts belonging to the Klalo, a Native American tribe from the western end of the Columbia River Gorge. Ten years later, a stolen petroglyph emerges-along with a body buried in a garage. Neill sees a chance to redeem himself, with the help of his new neighbor, librarian Meg McLean. Her information-retrieval skills work together with the police investigation-but the partnership threatens to turn unprofessionally romantic. Meanwhile, two more people are murdered, and the Klalos' feisty chief, Madeline Thomas, has her own agenda that seems to hinder as much as help. Can a kind of justice finally come to Latouche County?
This middling first of a new series from Simonson (Larkspur) features a familiar mystery-solving duo of police professional and amateur sleuth: sheriff's deputy Rob Neill, who's inherited his grandmother's house in the town of Klalo, Wash., and his new next-door neighbor, Meg McLean, freshly arrived from Southern California to head up the town's library system. When a dead body is found buried in Meg's garage, their friendship moves from budding romance to investigative partners, as Rob deputizes Meg so he can take advantage of her research skills. A strong narrative line focused on the looting of Native American artifacts isn't enough, alas, to carry an otherwise bland and awkwardly plotted story. The novel is set in one of the country's most visually stunning areas, yet almost no attention is given to the landscape. The book's title, from an e.e. cummings poem, is the book's most original aspect.