St. Martin's Nov 2002, 23.95, 272 pp.
Farberville, Arkansas is usually a quiet little town but every once in a while trouble seems to erupt and everyone just knows crime solver Claire Malloy will be in the middle of it. To make way for more housing, a group of trees have to be cut down but environmentalist Miss Emily Parchester plans a protest by living in a tree until she wins her point. Claire, who aided and abetted the elderly woman before with a false murder charge, tries to talk some sense into her but fails in the face of the Emily's determination.
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When she returns home, Claire finds her sixteen-year-old daughter nearly hysterical. A newborn baby only four weeks old has been put on Claire's doorstep. Clair delivered the baby whose the teenage mother lived in the streets but she has no idea who she was. Anthony Armstrong, the developer who wants to cut the trees down, is murdered and his daughter, arrested for the crime. Claire recognizes her as the baby's mother and enlists her friends into helping her prove the young mother is innocent.
OUT ON A LAMB is an entertaining and poignant cosy that intertwines several social issues into the main story line. Joan Hess is a witty writer who uses subtle touches of humor to diffuse the tension when it reaches too high a level. The author is an expert at characterizations and readers are pulled into the plot because they want to know what the characters will do next especially since they are so unpredictable.