Bleak. That's the best word to describe the atmosphere of the North Dakota plains, the best word to describe the country in 1964, and the best word to describe indexer Marjorie Trumaine's life. Larry D. Sweazy brilliantly describes that bleakness, drawing the reader into Marjorie's world in his latest mystery, See Also Deception.
It's only been a few months since Marjorie was caught up in the tragedies that struck Dickinson, North Dakota. Now, she's just struggling to keep her life together as she cares for her paralyzed blind husband, Hank. She's constantly busy, wearing down, "Bouncing between the demands of the farm, my daily life tending to Hank, and writing indexes for an array of books, one right after the other." It's her indexing job that leads her into danger again. She only calls her friend Calla Eltmore, the town's librarian, for the answer to a reference question. But, Calla doesn't answer, which bothers Marjorie. And, when she calls again, a deputy sheriff answers. Now, Marjorie can't, and won't, believe the woman she considered a friend has committed suicide.
Hank understands Marjorie's "uncontrollable need for information", so it makes sense when she wants to go into town and asks the neighbor and his girl friend to stay with her husband. But, she asks a few questions at the library and the local tavern, and returns home to find Hank gone, now in the hospital where they can try to stabilize his breathing. Between staying at the hospital, and asking a few questions about the death she's now convinced was murder, Marjorie is about at the limit of her strength. But, the only person who seems convinced Calla's death wasn't suicide is a stranger, a woman Marjorie meets at the library. And, she doesn't have a great deal of patience when no one will listen. "I was born without the capability of holding my tongue or hiding my attitude." Now, Marjorie's questions will endanger everything she values, her life, and Hank's.
Marjorie Trumaine's North Dakota, with its drought conditions, its missile silos, is a barren, bleak environment. Sweazy has given his character a life to match, trapped her in a barren existence. But, he has also given her a strength to match her environment. It's a struggle every day for Marjorie to fight for her existence, for Hank's, for the farm. "I felt the emptiness of my life grow under my feel like an endless chasm that opened up, determined to draw me into its deep darkness forever."
Why read about a character and a land that share this dark outlook? Because Larry D. Sweazy is a master at describing Marjorie's life, and her compulsion to find answers. He pits Marjorie against a tough world, a land of sudden tragedies, droughts, disaster, and the greatest evil, man himself. See Also Deception is for those who can appreciate a grim atmosphere, and a character who fights against fear and grimness on a daily basis.
Larry D. Sweazy's website is www.larrydsweazy.com
See Also Deception by Larry D. Sweazy. Seventh Street Books. 2016. ISBN 9781633881264 (paperback), 240p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.