Harold Adams's series of mysteries about small-town South Dakota during the Great Depression are like the work of another great artist of that period--the photographer Walker Evans, who captured in black and white every grain and pore of the façades and faces he saw. Carl Wilcox--the rebellious son of a hotel owner who makes his living as a sign painter and occasional detective--is Adams's camera, recording in sharp, spare, and often pungent language the misdeeds of his fellows.
This time, Wilcox is finishing up a painting job in the town of Jonesville when the local pastor offers him $100 to find the man who raped and strangled his young niece. A frustrated bible teacher and a slick traveling salesman are the likely suspects, but the police have no evidence against either. In his comfortably offhand way, Wilcox sits and talks with all sorts of people, soaking up impressions and possible leads with apparently aimless ease. He also finds time to pursue another of his interests--romancing attractive and available women, in this case the town librarian, another character so quickly brought to life by Adams that you'll swear you've seen her picture in an old album. Other fine Wilcox outings include The Ditched Blonde, The Man Who Was Taller Than God, and A Way with Widows. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Carl Wilcox, a peripatetic middle-aged sign painter, crisscrosses the small towns of Depression-era South Dakota, attracting women and trouble in almost equal proportions in this consistently entertaining series (The Ice-Pick Artist, 1997, etc.). Though he's the less than proud owner of a jail record acquired during his reckless youth, Carl sometimes acts as the law?either officially or privately. This time, Carl finds himself in Jonesville with a nice painting commission. But this is the Depression and times are rough. So, when pastor Bjorn Bjornson asks Carl to find the killer who raped and strangled his young niece, Gwendolen, Carl can't resist the promise of an additional $100. Adams has a knack for investing the stock characters of small towns?doctors and lawyers, waitresses, housewives and salesmen?with refreshing color and originality. As Carl questions Gwendolen's father (the town doctor), her brother and her teachers and classmates, suspicions focus on Chris Kilbride, a young Bible teacher, and Derek Warford, a glib traveling salesman with a penchant for young girls. Carl finds serious romance in Jonesville with the school librarian?and danger, too, as a deadly rival stalks him. Carl's laconic narration is full of terse pleasures. In fact, Adams's prose, though as spare as a Dakota sky, contains more complexity and substance than most mystery writers achieve with the normal genre arsenal of noir atmospherics and anxiety-ridden psychologizing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.