St. Martin's, June 2003, 24.95, 320 pp.
Ten years ago Sissy Fletcher, a twenty-five year old beautiful and wild woman, disappears after last being seen at the Rodeo Dance. Everyone thought she went to the big city to start a new life for herself but that theory is disproved in the present when a construction crew digs up the remains of Sissy. The sheriff of Washington County, Texas Clyde Thomas knows he's not equipped to deal with a murder investigation so he asks retired Texas Ranger Captain Jeremiah Spur to help him.
Even though his daughter is dying in a Houston hospital, Jeremiah agrees to help but Sissy's brother Martin is disturbed that her bones were recovered and along with his friend Did (an appropriate name) start a two man crime wave. He robs a grocery store killing a black man and his mother. He also intends to blow up the courthouse so that all the law enforcement people die. Sissy's investigation has to be put on hold while innocent men and women are at the mercy of an insane killer.
This is James Hime's debut novel and it is a solid police procedural, but even better crime as a thriller. Readers are left to wonder why the discovery of Sissy's remains set off her brother and the answer rings true even though it is shocking. The hero of this novel is the Texas Ranger (retired) who bends a few rules to see Justice prevail. He keeps his head while everything he cares about seems to be falling apart. THE NIGHT OF THE DANCE is a strong debut novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner