Dead Man Falls
Paula Boyd
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Buy *Dead Man Falls: A Jolene Jackson Mystery* online

Dead Man Falls: A Jolene Jackson Mystery
Paula Boyd
Diomo Books
268 pages
November 2000
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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If you're looking for a laugh-a-minute mystery in the style of Joan Hess or Carl Hiaasen, run right out and buy this book. Paula Boyd has to be the funniest lady to come out of Texas in many a year, seconded only by her fast-talking, love-struck heroine, Jolene Jackson. Dead Man Falls celebrates Jolene's reappearance in print after Boyd's successful debut novel, Hot Enough To Kill, hit the shelves in 1999. Both books have won rave reviews across the country, and it doesn't take a genius to understand why. Boyd is one talented writer who plays with words the way Springsteen plays with sounds; every bit of dialogue and background fits perfectly into the story with no extraneous fluff to destroy the pace. It's as near perfect a comedy-mystery as you can find on the market today.

Curled Up With a Good BookJolene Jackson's greeting card business is headquartered in Colorado, but that doesn't prevent the single mom of two college-aged kids from returning to Kickapoo, Texas, on her mother's "every little whim or incarceration -- whichever comes first." This time she's back in town for Lucille's 72nd birthday bash at the local Dairy Queen. Iced tea and fried chicken are on the menu, but so are murder and mayhem. As part of the pre-birthday festivities, Lucille drags her daughter off to Redwater Falls, the next town up the road from Kickapoo, for the grand unveiling of a brand new, super-duper waterfall. Because the pumps aren't completely installed yet, water for the man-made falls has to be supplied by the local fire department via their massive hoses. All seems to be in order when the crowd gathers to watch the first drops of water trickle over the falls. But when the trickle becomes a torrent, lo and behold, down from the rocky structure tumbles a body.

The dead man turns out to be an old high school classmate of Jolene's. That's shocking enough for the ex-resident of Kickapoo, but when pages from her senior yearbook are found tied between Calvin Holt's lifeless hands, the shock turns to fear. Holt's face has been X'd out of the group photo, and Jolene's picture has been circled in red. Also circled is the face of Sheriff Jerry Don Parker, Kickapoo's top lawman and Jolene's from-a-distance heartthrob. Redwater Falls Detective Rick Rankin decides that Jolene and Jerry need protecting lest they become the killer's next victims. Protection, in this case, amounts to locking the two of them up together in a hotel room while Rankin hunts down the killer. While there are certain satisfying aspects to this forced incarceration, Jolene must admit to being a tad worried about Lucille. Her gun-toting momma is being guarded -- and romanced -- by Fritz Harper, a 65-year-old retired farmer and deputy sheriff. Will the killer try to get to Jolene and Jerry through Lucille? If he does, will Fritz be fast enough on the draw to save his ladylove from harm?

For the answers to these and other equally intriguing questions, read Dead Man Falls by WILLA Award winner Paula Boyd. The book sparkles with wry good humor, but it's not all fun and games for Jolene Jackson. Boyd treats readers to a well-crafted plot rippling with suspense and a logical conclusion that ties up all the loose ends. It's a gem of a book, and one that should earn Boyd the respect of the entire mystery community.

© 2002 by Mary V. Welk for Curled Up With a Good Book

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