The Replacement Child
Dunne, Oct 2008, $23.95
On her scanner, elderly Patsy “Scanner Lady” Burke overhears two state cops discuss the death of twenty-three years old Burroway Academy seventh grade teacher Melissa Baca who was thrown from the Taos Gorge Bridge. As she has done a zillion times before, Patsy calls the Santa Fe Capital Tribune but this time is stuck with a female, editor Lucy Newroe with the news.
A volunteer EMT, Lucy and her medico partner Gil answer an emergency call by going to the home of an elderly woman where she finds Patsy strangled to death. She checks the police scanner log but finds no entry re the Baca death. Santa Fe police Detective Sergeant Gil Montoya investigates the Baca death finding discrepancies over alleged drug use. With Lucy badgering Gil, they team up seeking more than just the scanner link between the two homicides.
Readers will understand why THE REPLACEMENT CHILD won the annual Tony Hillerman Prize for best previously unpublished mystery set in the Southwest as the scanner murders are fun to follow and the Santa Fe setting makes an ideal backdrop. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Scanner Lady calls Lucy and never slows down. Although the coincidence of Lucy answering the medical call is a minor quibble, fans will enjoy Christine Barber’s first Santa Fe whodunit.