Pecos Valley Revival
Five Star, Feb 9 2011, $25.95
In 1923 in Rosedale, New Mexico, nineteen years old Annabelle Blue works in her family's dry-goods store. However she has dreams of seeing the world that she has read about. Her boyfriend Phil Gunderson is a highly regarded rodeo performer, but Annabelle doubts she will see the world with him as to Phil the southwest is the world.
She looks forward to the annual rodeo because she meets interesting people from different places. This year also includes a tent revivalist gala, which means more people from elsewhere. However, Annabelle never expected the revivalist preacher Reverend Strickland’s beautiful vivacious sister Esther Strickland would have Phil salivating after her as well as his rodeo rival champion Kenny Sawyer; his fiancée Sarah Molina is as distraught as Anabelle is; each is upset with Esther treating their boyfriends like candy and their boyfriends reciprocating the sweetness. When Kenny is poisoned on the rodeo’s second night, the police suspect his jealous fiancée. That changes when a second homicide occurs, in which Sarah has no motive.
This is an enjoyable historical mystery with the emphasis on time and place as the audience will feel Alice Duncan enchantingly transported readers to 1920s New Mexico. The cast is solid especially Annabelle, who tells the tale, although she is not as enticing as Daisy Gumm Majesty is. The whodunit is cleverly devised, but remains in the background to observing life in Rosedale circa 1923.