In The Contrary Blues, John Billheimer's acclaimed debut set in West Virginia mining country, transportation expert, amateur sleuth, and erstwhile native son Owen Allison got caught up in a transportation embezzlement scheme chock full of West Virginia good ol' boys just a little bit short on ethics. Owen's next adventure, Highway Robbery, found Owen winging his way home again, this time to investigate a recently discovered thirty-five-year-old skeleton with a bullet hole in its skull.
Now, in Dismal Mountain, Owen Allison returns yet again to the familiar hometown hills of West Virginia. Within minutes of his arrival he's embroiled in a battle with cheating hospital administrators and a shady land development company. When construction dumping threatens the family hollow near Barkley, Owen's Aunt Lizzie grabs her rifle and sets out to stop it. Shots are fired, a trucker is killed, and Aunt Lizzie swears she pulled the trigger. But Owen thinks she's hiding something--perhaps out of a stubborn sense of family loyalty--and he intends to find the truth before she's forced to face the consequences.
Can Owen clear his aunt's name, in spite of her best efforts to stonewall him, as well as figure out a way to stop the harmful dumping before it's too late for all the Allisons? If anyone can successfully navigate the bureaucratic mess and deal with the colorful local scoundrels, it's Owen Allison. Both are par for the course in John Billheimer's quirky and inventive mystery series.
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JOHN BILLHEIMER, a native of West Virginia, lives in Portola Valley, California. This is his third Owen Allison novel.From Publishers Weekly:
When transportation inspector Owen Allison comes home to rural West Virginia to tend to his dying mother, he finds three oddly interlocking crimes in this decidedly mixed bag of a third novel (after 2000's Highway Robbery). Mountain View Development is cutting the top off a mountain and building a shopping mall. Trouble is, the company's trucks are making mysterious late-night trips to the site. Lizzie Neal, who runs the local hospice where Owen's mother is slated to stay, gets arrested for the murder of a construction worker. Lizzie quickly confesses, even though the facts of the case point to her innocence. Sister Mary, a nun working at the local hospital, used to date Owen in her previous life. At the hospital the patients' bills are showing strange irregularities dead dogs getting grief counseling and two-day stays billed for four. Sister Mary dies, apparently pregnant, of a drug overdose, and the hospital's bookkeeper vanishes after alerting the authorities to the discrepancies in the account books. The whole caper smells worse than an unchanged bedpan. Owen's a pretty dull egg to try and build a crime series around, so wisely the author pads this tale with enough down-home witticisms to keep his readers chuckling. But when he gamely tries to ratchet up the tension with a car crash and a long dark night in an abandoned mineshaft, the pace change jars. Too many crimes, a lot of mostly okay jokes and a bland sleuth add up to only middling entertainment. Agent, Ruth Cohen.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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