Five Star, Aug 2003, 25.95, 212 pp.
In 1942 Pat Gunn needs money to survive the rest of what he expects to be a short war. He does what many people living in his community of Wisdom, New Mexico has done, torched his house for the insurance. Pat will live in the movie theater he owns that is idle because the town is dying due to government policy of closing the nearby gold mines.
Fire Chief and Marshal Ron Bowdrie decides to make an example of Pat. He asks the state to send an arson detective to investigate the latest fire. However, someone kills visitor Frank Keller. Ron believes Pat is the culprit and plans to have him locked away. Now Pat must prove his innocence with much of the remaining thirty residents on his side, but especially Pearl, madam of the Happy Eagle brothel and the woman whom he loves.
SURVIVING WISDOM is an insightful historical mystery with an emphasis on the impact of federal policy on a small New Mexico town and its residents. The period piece remains timely in today's world, but also overpowers a clever who-done-it because of the depth of detail that easily flows as part of the plot and the genuinely realistic cast. Historical readers will fully appreciate this superb look at small town USA during the early American entry into WW II.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner