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Dismal Mountain: An Owen Allison Mystery [Hardcover]

John Billheimer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 6 2001 Owen Allison Mysteries (Book 3)
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.

Product Details


Product Description

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.

From Booklist

The third Owen Allison mystery, following Contrary Blues (1998) and Highway Robbery (2000), finds the transportation inspector defending his aunt Lizzie against a murder charge. With her land threatened by the construction of a shopping mall, Lizzie parks herself at the edge of her property, shotgun in her lap, vowing to do whatever it takes to stop the dump trucks; then, suddenly, a truck driver is dead. Did Aunt Lizzie really shoot him? Owen smells a rat, but Lizzie seems determined to refuse his help. Throw in an assortment of well-drawn characters (Billheimer's specialty) and a clever scam run by some shady hospital administrators, and you have a first-rate crime novel. There are plenty of mysteries featuring amateur sleuths whose primary occupation is only peripherally connected with law enforcement (reporters, writers, safety inspectors), but Allison is one of the most believable and most entertaining of the bunch. Billheimer's characters are so vividly drawn they threaten to wander off the page and into the real world. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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The light commuter plane was buffeted by so much turbulence that Owen Allison found it difficult to read, so he watched the terrain below through the bouncing window. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read June 19 2001
Format:Hardcover
The Mountain View Development Company began leveling Dismal Mountain, West Virginia in order to construct a mall. The firm bought out most residents but elderly Lizzie Neal refused to leave because this was the home of her ancestors and her parents were buried nearby. When the company sends trucks down from the mountaintop, an incident finally occurs. Lizzie's nephew Bobby Ray killed the driver who he swears fired at him first. Lizzie sets up the scene so it would seem she shot the driver.

Lizzie's nephew, transportation inspection consultant Owen Allison, comes home to visit his ailing mother and to help Lizzie. While Owen's mother recovers from cancer surgery, Sheriff Thad Reader explains to him that Lizzie's confession of being responsible appears phony. He asks Owen to try to learn the truth. As he makes some inquiries, Owen begins to uncover a dark conspiracy to fund the Dismal Mountain Project, which places his life in danger.

DISMAL MOUNTAIN is an exciting and relevant Owen Allison mystery that highlights the environmental versus economy issue. The story line is entertaining due to the strong secondary characters that help bring West Virginia alive while providing depth to Owen through his family members and his former college sweetheart. John Billheimer makes mystery reading fun (see HIGHWAY ROBBERY and THE CONTRARY BLUES for additional pleasure).

Harriet Klausner
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read June 19 2001
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Mountain View Development Company began leveling Dismal Mountain, West Virginia in order to construct a mall. The firm bought out most residents but elderly Lizzie Neal refused to leave because this was the home of her ancestors and her parents were buried nearby. When the company sends trucks down from the mountaintop, an incident finally occurs. Lizzie's nephew Bobby Ray killed the driver who he swears fired at him first. Lizzie sets up the scene so it would seem she shot the driver.

Lizzie's nephew, transportation inspection consultant Owen Allison, comes home to visit his ailing mother and to help Lizzie. While Owen's mother recovers from cancer surgery, Sheriff Thad Reader explains to him that Lizzie's confession of being responsible appears phony. He asks Owen to try to learn the truth. As he makes some inquiries, Owen begins to uncover a dark conspiracy to fund the Dismal Mountain Project, which places his life in danger.

DISMAL MOUNTAIN is an exciting and relevant Owen Allison mystery that highlights the environmental versus economy issue. The story line is entertaining due to the strong secondary characters that help bring West Virginia alive while providing depth to Owen through his family members and his former college sweetheart. John Billheimer makes mystery reading fun (see HIGHWAY ROBBERY and THE CONTRARY BLUES for additional pleasure).

Harriet Klausner
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