Cast the First Stone
Five Star, Mar 2009, $25.95
In 1932 in Ludlodi, Colorado, fifteen years old Katherine Woodson explains to Coyote County Sheriff George Mallis that her bootlegging father Merle vanished after arguing with his business partner Parn Shannon. They have not found the corpse but the sheriff locks him up after accusing him of killing the missing father. It is obvious to the deputies and Parn’s sister that the sheriff has a deep grudge against Parn; George blames him and Merle for the deaths of his wife and child.
Deputy Roy Eastman persuades Parn’s widowed sister Trini Bates to use her dowsing skill to locate Merle. She succeeds finding his body at the bottom of a canyon. However, George not only remains steadfast in his belief Parn killed his partner; he finds a bloody knife in a woodpile by his prisoner’s cabin. As an angry but despondent Trini ignores her need to grieve her husband’s death eight months ago. She investigates Merle’s background convinced George killed him to gain control over east Colorado bootlegging, but evidence mounts against Parn, which impacts negatively on Trini’s dowsing skills. Still she fosters Katherine and her twelve year old brother Jake who has the mind of a five year old, and is taken aback to find Roy desires her even while someone else wants her dead.
Timely with the impact of the Depression on a person’s values vs. employment as Roy learns, CAST THE FIRST STONE is an engaging historical amateur sleuth tale. The cast is powerful running very deep as each provides a taste of life in the Rockies in 1932. The whodunit and related suspense are well written, but also enhance the sense of time and place for instance waiting for the traveling circuit judge to come to town as speedy trial is theory only; thus in many ways Rebbie Macintyre’s entertaining tale is more a historical than a mystery.