Cold Country

Dzanc. Nov. 2019. 232p. ISBN 9781945814921. pap. $16.95. M
Montana resident Rowland (In Open Spaces; “Arbuckle” series) utilizes his understanding of the land and its people to tell an intriguing story about a small community that hides many secrets and is the center of a brutal murder. In 1968, a wealthy ranger, Tom Butcher, is beaten to death with a baseball bat in an incident that shocks the ranching community of Paradise Valley, an area north of Yellowstone National Park. A family, new to the area, is immediately suspected; accusations stem from their son’s fight with a school bully. As the story unfolds, dysfunctional families are forced to face the truth and reveal their relationships with and feelings toward the victim. This story reminds readers that people everywhere hide unpleasantness, distrust newcomers, and are quick to cast doubt, even on old friends, and that bullies come in all ages. Rowland’s plot includes all family members, which makes the story riveting. No single character is the sleuth or solves the mystery.
VERDICT Fans of regional mysteries will find this delightful.
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