"The Hollywood-cum-Santa Fe artists, both screwy and sensible, in the desert are all neatly caught in the lively style given to Mrs. Pat to narrate. Grade: A"--The Saturday Review
"Plenty of excitement."--Kirkus
From the jacket:
"Time was," said the sheriff of Santa Maria, "when murder was murder in this country. ... But now we got artists and writers and therefore psychology. It's enough to ruin the country."
It was lucky for Sheriff Trask that Pat Abbott and his lively wife, Jeanie, were vacationing in the little New Mexican artists' colony the day a psychotic war veteran and a gangster's widow arrived on the Plaza. By an unlikely coincidence they were the former spouses of friends of the Abbotts who had just announced their engagement. Gilbert Mason, a Hollywood writer with a penchant for seeing the worst, pointed out to Jeanie that it looked as if there would be no marriage, for the widow packed a gun.
The first day of tension exploded into murder and kidnapping, both crimes committed almost simultaneously, as if they had been masterminded to confuse pursuit. Immediately everyone began to act out of character. Competent Vanessa Wells, a writer who had lived alone and liked it for years, turned nervous and absent-minded. Gilbert Mason, a confirmed gossip, acted as if he knew more than he told. The gangster's widow and her apelike retainer became good Samaritans. And the handsome war veteran, who'd always looked after himself, began to plot his own downfall.
Through the exciting adventure Mrs. Crane conveys the many aspects of the New Mexican landscape, using the charm of Spanish-Indian culture, the backbiting of bohemia, and the terrifying, cruel loneliness of the desert to enhance the suspense.