Lizzie Randall, the preacher's daughter, is murdered. The men of the west Texas town are set on lynching Paco Morales, a Mexican teenager who happened to be in the vicinity at the time. No proof, but, after all, he is only a Mexican. Reason and/or conscience work on most of the would-be lynchers, so that, in the end justice is served. The list of suspects grows to include almost everyone in the story, thus providing an agreeable tangle of clues.
A really enjoyable book this one, the best I've read (or if you like, had read to me) this month so far.
A dead girl and an obvious scapegoat - a 15yr Mexican kid, a mob mentality, a beating - a prelude to a hanging, a weak sheriff, a dead father, an unpunished card cheat, a preacher with a secret past and a disturbed mind, the town drunk, a pregnancy, a kill or cure doctor, a little man with a chip on both shoulders and an axe to grind, a fiance who can't keep it in his pants, his would be wife with a temper and a rifle, a sheriff's deputy with scars and no stomach for more killing, a rich businessman doing his civic duty, the Mexican kid's mother - a widow with a strong urge to keep her son alive and a long memory or how the law failed her husband, a barkeep easily led and some other assorted townsfolks and witnesses.
Crider mixes up a heady brew, with a decent cast of characters, and an incendiary situation. Racism, mob mentality and a face off between the few that stand for reason and justice and the enraged with the ropes.
There are a lot of secrets uncovered as the book progresses and the possibilites increase as to the killer's identity. These get eliminated one by one, until there's only one that remains. Bill Crider does keep the pot boiling though, I thought we had the one, but actually at that point we had two.
Cracking, and a reminder that I should read more Western genre fiction than I currently do - after all it's crime fiction with hats and horses.
4.5 from 5
Read - (listened to) October, 2020
Published - 1989
Page count - 175 (5 hrs 41 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible