Sally Alder thought she'd left Laramie and outgrown her hard-drinking, guitar playing, hell-raising post for good. After all, this former singer known as Mustang Sally has become a respected history professor. What's more, she's been named to a richly endowed position at the University of Wyoming. But this plum job lands her back in Laramie -- secretly researching the life of one of the town's most famous yet little-known citizens, the late Meg Dunwoodie.
Of course, everyone knows Sally's poking through old Meg's papers, and a lot of people think that buried among them is a treasure map that could lead to a fortune. Most of Laramie is determined to find it, including a bunch of clueless burglars, a curious sheriff, gossipy friends, and greedy faculty colleagues. And, as if that isn't enough to distract Sally, sexy Hawk Green is back to rekindle the romance she thought was gone forever.
As she delves into Meg's romantic past, Sally discovers the forces of good and evil in Laramie are beginning to align in a mysterious way. And if she doesn't learn from the post quickly enough, she may be doomed to repeat deadly mistakes.
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The Prodigal Daughter is coming home. Bring on the fatted calf--or at the very least an order of onion rings and a stiff shot of Kentucky bourbon. Sally Alder, once the hard-living, hard-drinking, better-than-average singing star of the Laramie, Wyoming, country-and-western bar scene is back in her hometown for the first time in 17 years. And to the amazement (and horror) of many, she's back as a respected scholar and holder of the Dunwoodie Distinguished Chair in American Women's History at the University of Wyoming. It's a career move that doesn't sit well with many of her new colleagues, as police chief Dickie Langham muses: "He decided that she would be making more than enough to infuriate the average chronically underpaid Wyoming history professor.... How much worse that Sally was somebody who had once put herself through a master's program in history by singing songs like 'Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mothers.'"
Sally has been hired, in part, to write the biography of Margaret Dunwoodie, a well-known frontier poet whose work is troubling, seductive, and hilarious (Sally's favorite poem is "Still Life of Fascists with Herefords"). As Sally makes her way slowly through a lifetime's worth of papers, poems, letters, and shopping lists, she finds her attention drifting more toward the present than the past; how to reposition herself in Laramie society, how to negotiate a newly explosive courtship with former lover Hawk Green--these seem far more pressing than Dunwoodie's story. Brown-Eyed Girl is no fast-paced thriller; Swift is content to let her story drift as peacefully as spring snow moving across the plains.
For that reason, the brusque demands of plot, action, and mystery seem to strike a foreign chord upon their introduction. When a distant relative of the poet, disgruntled at having been denied what he considers his rightful inheritance, joins forces with reactionary millionaire Teton County rancher Elroy Foote to menace Sally and steal a fortune they are convinced is hidden among the papers, the novel teeters precariously on the verge of trying to become something it isn't. But Swift wisely retreats from overinvesting in a plot that is, it must be said, too weak to support itself. She chooses instead to treat Foote and his henchmen with a sly sense of the absurd: "Most of the Unknown Soldiers were intellectually challenged good ol' boys and mentally rearranged Vietnam vets who thought for various reasons (too many wilderness areas, too many missile silos, the advent of bad cappuccino at the local Diamond Shamrock) that foreigners and the federal government were engaged in a secret plot to take over Wyoming."
Though the capital-M Mystery aspect of Brown-Eyed Girl is perhaps more a distraction than an attraction, the little mysteries of the human personality--the foibles of friends, lovers, and enemies--more than make up for its intrusion. Swift's talent for person and place will easily woo you away from plot. --Kelly FlynnAbout the Author:
Virginia Swift teaches history at the University of New Mexico. She also writes nonfiction under the name of Virginia Scharff. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Book Description Avon, 2001. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110061030309
Book Description Avon, 2001. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0061030309