Failure analyst Owen Allison returns to his native West Virginia, where his mother faces cancer and construction dumping threatens a family hollow. Owen’s Aunt Lizzie, shotgun in hand, vows to stop the dump trucks. A trucker is killed and Aunt Lizzie swears she pulled the trigger. But Owen thinks she’s hiding something. He sets out to find the truth, putting himself in the crosshairs of a deadly conspiracy, as his mother undergoes her own ordeal.
This Mystery Company edition restores to print the third novel in the Owen Allison series.
When transportation inspector Owen Allison comes home to rural West Virginia to tend to his dying mother, he finds three oddly interlocking crimes in this decidedly mixed bag of a third novel (after 2000's Highway Robbery). Mountain View Development is cutting the top off a mountain and building a shopping mall. Trouble is, the company's trucks are making mysterious late-night trips to the site. Lizzie Neal, who runs the local hospice where Owen's mother is slated to stay, gets arrested for the murder of a construction worker. Lizzie quickly confesses, even though the facts of the case point to her innocence. Sister Mary, a nun working at the local hospital, used to date Owen in her previous life. At the hospital the patients' bills are showing strange irregularities dead dogs getting grief counseling and two-day stays billed for four. Sister Mary dies, apparently pregnant, of a drug overdose, and the hospital's bookkeeper vanishes after alerting the authorities to the discrepancies in the account books. The whole caper smells worse than an unchanged bedpan. Owen's a pretty dull egg to try and build a crime series around, so wisely the author pads this tale with enough down-home witticisms to keep his readers chuckling. But when he gamely tries to ratchet up the tension with a car crash and a long dark night in an abandoned mineshaft, the pace change jars. Too many crimes, a lot of mostly okay jokes and a bland sleuth add up to only middling entertainment.