Medallion, Oct 2008, $7.95
In Bear Butte County South Dakota, private investigator partners Julie “Jules” Collins and Kevin Wells know the winter months are extremely slow. So when Amery Grayson hires Wells/Collins Investigations to investigate the Prairie Gardens Assisted Living Facility where her grandfather Vernon Sloane lives, the pair jumps at the case. They quickly find the facility has almost no security system in place and unlicensed and unskilled staff dispensing health care. Even the elderly volunteer program looks suspicious though the sleuths know they must dig deeper to confirm their theory.
Soon after their initial evaluation, Julie is stuck on her family’s ranch sharing a cattle shelter with her estranged father while a blizzard unmercifully strikes. As the snow reminds her of her unhappy past, a ranch hand is found dead. As more bodies are found, Julie investigates the serial killings as much as she looks back to her past while her relationship with Tony Martinez falters. At the same time, Kevin continues to work the assisted living case, but breaks a PI taboo of becoming involved with the all leg and all blond client.
The latest Bear Butte County private investigative tale is an enjoyable entry though not quite as powerful as the previous novels (see HOLLOWED GROUND, SHALLOW GRAVE and BLOOD TIES) that goes down two prime paths. First there is the assisted living case with Wells crossing taboo lines as Jules has done in the past as Tony’s “Blondie”. Second there is Collins stuck with her father and a murder mystery on the ranch. With Hombres business seemingly interfering with Jules’ relationship with Tony, readers will wonder what next is going to happen in South Dakota.