DEATH AND THE HUBCAP
Linda Berry


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Write Way Publishing, Sep 2000
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

One of the least popular jobs handled by police office Trudy Roundtree is dealing with Tanner Whitcomb. Tanner’s eccentricities include putt-putting around the streets of Ogeechee, Georgia holding a hubcap in front of him, thinking he’s driving a car. When the Ogeechee Police Department receives a report that Tanner has run over and killed someone, the reaction is mild amusement.

Sent to investigate, Trudy is quite startled to find Tanner sitting near a dead body. The dead man has two clear tire tracks across him, which lets Tanner off the hook. That is, it would have let him off the hook if he hadn’t scavenged so many items off the body, including a cell phone which the OPD discovers is getting some interesting phone calls.

The investigation focuses in two places, an Atlanta art gallery where the deceased was part owner, and a junkyard in a small town near Ogeechee where many of the gallery's sculptures are created. Trudy takes a certain amount of satisfaction in making police inquiries about her ex-boyfriend, another part owner of the gallery, but she doesn’t really want him to be guilty. Unfortunately, as she gets to know the widow of the murder victim and some of her lovers and gallery artists, Trudy doesn't want any of them to be guilty, either. While she is exploring professionalism and personal feelings in this way, she is also settling into her new place in the community of Ogeechee, needling her cousin the Police Chief, and feeling out her relationship with the editor of the town weekly.

I found that in spite of the interesting characters and sassy, entertaining tone, I put this book down often while I was reading it. I think this was because of the slow pace. DEATH AND THE HUBCAP ambles like the sleepy southern town it is set in. Anyone from a small town will recognize the depth of personal knowledge you can get about someone when you share small town life with them, and how much you take that knowledge for granted. I am reminded of Joan Hess’s Maggody books, but in spite of Linda Berry’s funny barbed little zingers, the book takes a kinder, more understanding approach than the early books of the Maggody series, and I found it more enjoyable to read.

This is Linda Berry’s second Trudy Roundtree book, following DEATH AND THE EASTER BUNNY. Write Way Publishing struck it lucky when they signed on Linda Berry, and more power to them for supporting a series which conventional marketing might consider to be of regional interest only. DEATH AND THE HUBCAP will give you a vacation from city life.

Aug 2000 Review

 

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