Ballantine, April 2004, 22.95, 288 pp.
It's been two years since Tom died in Emma's arms and the owner and editor of the weekly Alpine Advocate still grieves the loss of the only man she ever loved. She pours all her energy into her newspaper, her rivalry with the owner of the local radio station becoming friendly. The latest story Emma covers is the melodrama that the Alpine Council Dramatic Club is performing. The narrator, radio owner Spencer Fleetwood is terrific in his role with his beautiful speaking voice but otherwise Emma thinks the whole affair is amateurish.
At the end of the play when the villain, played by Dean of Students Hans Berringer, dies and the audience applauds the lackluster performance; one of the actors realizes that Hank in fact did die because the bullets in the gun were real. Nobody was watching the prop box so anyone could have switched the bullets. Emma immediately starts snooping around to find out who switched the bullets and she finds out that most people disliked Hank with a passion and many of them had motives.
THE ALPINE PURSUIT is as much a mystery as it is a woman coming to terms with a traumatic loss. This is Mary Daheim's hardcover debut and she deserves it because her well written tales involve real life situations and social issues while entertaining her audience. This book has many layers all involving people in emotional pain and how they cope with the hand life dealt them. By the end of the novel, one gets the feeling that the heroine is starting to heal and that makes the reader feel good because it is impossible not to like Emma.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner