Unequally Yoked is the third mystery in the Tempe Crabtree series. Though reading a series in order seems to make the most sense, Marilyn Meredith is successful at reintroducing continuing characters with in a fresh way each time, that the books easily stand solid on their own.
A homeless family is spending nights in a campsite, sleeping in tents and using the back of a stationwagon for their house. The woman, Jan, has three children. The man, Andy Muldock, is their stepfather. Muldock had his own family at one time. His wife left had left him and his kids had been taken away from him. He had been abusing drugs and had been getting violent with his kids.
Tempe Crabtree is a deputy in the small town of Bear Creek. Her daily tasks have her working to keep peace and harmony. However, Crabtree, as always, gets caught up in an investigation that takes her beyond her daily assignments as a police deputy. Jan's youngest daughter, Vicky, turns up missing. Crabtree is assigned the job of locating the missing girl. Based on Muldock's shady past and some incriminating evidence, it seems more likely that foul play has occurred, rather than the child wandering off and getting lost in the night.
In this particular installment, Crabtree's search for answers, her quest for the truth, cause an enormous amount of turmoil in her recent marriage to area preacher, Hutch. Crabtree, who is part Native American Yanduchi, allows herself to be open and explore some of the rituals of her ancestry. Fearing the spiritual methods clash with Christian beliefs, then tension between husband and wife threaten to keep Crabrtee from wholeheartedly hunting down everything it is that she is looking for to ease some of Jan's suffering.
Though each book has been entertaining and fast-paced, to date, Unequally Yoked is my favorite. It is a little grittier and hard-boiled. There is more tension. A knot was in my stomach, chapter after chapter, anxious to see what would happen. The good thing, though I finished this fine mystery thriller, is that I still have Intervention to read-the fourth book in the Tempe Crabtree series.
--Phillip Tomasso III, author of Johnny Blade & Third Ring