Signet, July 2002, 5.99, 272 pp.
Judge MacLaren Yarbrough has her hands full running Yarbrough's Feed, Seed, and Nursery, managing her magisterial duties, keeping care of her home and taking care of her husband Joe Riddley. Joe is recovering from a head injury and has to relearn how to care for himself as well as read and write. His memory is cloudy and he is prone to violent episodes.
To show their support for Joe, two hundred people come to his birthday party and he enjoyed it as much as a kid would. Only a very few knew that in the house was the body of a dead man, shot to death by a bullet to his head. The sheriff conspired with MacLaren to keep it quiet until the guests left and they succeeded. Once the investigation got underway, MacLaren does her best to find out who the killer is and to prove to the authorities that Joe had nothing to do with it.
Patricia Sprinkles has created a complex mystery with many viable suspects who had ample reason to see the victim dead. Life in a small southern town where everyone knows their neighbor and a stranger sticks out is seen as a positive thing. The heartache of living with someone who has undergone severe brain trauma is shown in agonizing detail and readers can't help but empathize with the protagonist for caring for her man.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner