Lola Wicks, foreign newspaper correspondent to Afghanistan, is a victim of company downsizing. Her paper can no longer afford to let her work overseas, and so she’s brought Stateside. For Lola, who lives on adrenalin and coffee in the war zone, this is appalling. She has no wish to report on PTA meetings, neighborhood robberies, and the political ministrations of the local town council. Her editor seems as appalled; he clearly has no wish to take on fierce and fiery Lola. Lola is sent off on vacation, and while Lola is mighty resentful about it, she figures the vacation will give her time to plan her escape route back to Kabul. So off she goes, to visit an old friend living in Montana. The problem? When Lola arrives, she finds that her friend, Mary Alice, has been murdered outside her wilderness cabin.
Lola soon finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation. The local authorities appear too bumbling to find their own boots in the morning, so Lola decides she must solve Mary Alice’s murder. To do so, she must form a bond with the townsfolk, a group that is more terrifying to her than anyone she met in Afghanistan. Is she equal to the challenge? At times, even Lola is not sure.
I very much enjoyed this debut mystery from author Gwen Florio. Lola is a forceful woman who acts first and asks for permission later. Under that tough exterior, we sense that Lola has deep insecurities. She steals things. She has trouble putting down roots. She mistrusts everyone. Those traits helped make her a good foreign journalist, but they are traits that make it hard to make friends in rural America. Yet, almost in spite of herself, Lola finds that she soon cares for the local folks, even as her quest for a killer puts her life in danger. The story is fast-paced, and Lola’s irascible personality practically drips from every page. Throw in a shaggy dog, a spotted horse, and a likable local sheriff and you have a heck of a fine tale.
The second book in this series is out now, and titled “Dakota.”