Sunday, August 21, 2016

See Also Deception: Larry D. Sweazy

See Also Deception continues the story of Marjorie Trumaine, set on a farm in rural North Dakota in October, 1964. The area is affected by a drought, with a severe impact on the crops and livestock on the farm.  President Kennedy was killed in the previous year, and that still affects the nation. There is a cold war going on, very visible in Marjorie's state, with missile silos being drilled into the ground.

I read the first book in this series, See Also Murder, just over a year ago, and I was very impressed with it. In the second book, Marjorie's best friend in the area, a librarian, commits suicide. At first it is a major shock to Marjorie to realize that her friend has been in enough pain to kill herself and that Marjorie was not aware of this. Then she slowly begins to suspect that the suicide was faked.

Marjorie is a strong character, and in this book her gutsiness and her determination are in full force. Background to this story is that although Marjorie and her husband are owners of a working farm, her husband Hank is a quadriplegic due to a hunting accident. All of the responsibilities of keeping the farm running in difficult times fall on her, plus the care of her husband. She has a few neighbors willing to help, but it is a constant struggle to pay the bills and get the work done. And on top of that, Hank's health has been gradually getting worse.

One way Marjorie pays the bills is by creating indexes for non-fiction books. It is this aspect of the book that drew me to the series from the beginning. I think indexes in books are wondrous things (if they are done right) and I can only imagine the work that goes into creating one. Marjorie's natural bent towards orderliness and list making, plus intelligence, make her perfect for that job. And it also makes her a perfect amateur detective. I am not usually a fan of amateur detectives but this series is very convincing and works for me.

I am not sure why, but I liked this book even better than the first one; maybe it was only because I was familiar with the characters and the setting. Some of the secondary characters are further developed in this entry in the series. Although the deaths were more graphic in the first book, the villain is just as intensely scary in this one. There is no way that this a cozy mystery series. Marjorie's isolation on a rural farm leaves her open to attacks and builds up the tension. I came closer to guessing the perpetrator in this one, but Sweazy did a great job of distracting me and keeping me guessing.

This is a wonderful picture of the 1960's in rural North Dakota. The secondary role of women in society at that time is explored. I was a teenager in these times, in a big city in the southern US. I remember the impact of John F. Kennedy's assassination during those years. It was eye opening to read about a totally different part of the country at that time.

Links to other reviews and an interview:

Larry D. Sweazy (pronounced: Swayzee) is the author of twelve novels, including two Western series and two standalone novels (see the list at Fantastic Fiction).  He has two new novels coming in 2017, a third Marjorie Trumaine mystery, See Also Deadline, and another standalone, Where I Can See You.


Publisher:  Seventh Street Books, 2016.
Length:      237 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Series:       Marjorie Trumaine #2
Setting:      North Dakota
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      I purchased my copy.


col2910 said...

I'm with you in liking this one a bit more than the first. Glad you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I really like the idea of an indexer as the sleuth, Tracy. There's so much about that appeals :-). And the story sounds like a solid mystery, too. Glad you enjoyed it.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks Tracy, sounds good though I'll have to take any historical or geographical issues on faith as it is not a region I know anything about - but that's true of most books I read these days!

Bill Selnes said...

TracyK: I am going to have to keep an eye out for this author. I was growing up in the 1960's a few hundred miles north of North Dakota.

TracyK said...

Col, Very glad that there will be a third book in this series. And that you told me about that, because I would not have known.

TracyK said...

I agree, Margot. I think Marjorie has the perfect personality to be realistic as an amateur sleuth. Some reviewers did not think the mystery portion was substantial or very good. I disagree. I guess it depends on what you are looking for.

TracyK said...

I had not thought about that much, Sergio. That is a portion of the US I haven't visited. I have assumed the book was well researched. The author is from Indiana.

As a child in Alabama, I had neighbors who visited their grandparents on a farm in South Dakota every summer and the home movies they brought back looked a lot like the descriptions in this book. Dry, not very green, flat.

I also had a niece who was in the Air Force in Minot, ND, and she liked the area a lot and stayed there after she separated from the military. Minot is one of the larger cities and it has only 40,000 population now.

TracyK said...

I did wonder if you would be interested, Bill. One review (or a commenter somewhere) made a comparison between Saskatchewan and North Dakota.

Clothes In Books said...

I, too, liked the first one, and luckily Col has sent me this one, so am just skimming your review till I've read it.

TracyK said...

Moira... There were many things I found interesting in this book that I could not cover them all in a review. I loved the picture of the times, the cultural mores, and how Marjorie reacted. And I remember those times being like that, even though I was younger. I hope you enjoy this one.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I still have to read Larry D. Sweazy. The time and setting of this novel is certainly appealing.

TracyK said...

Prashant, I think you would like his books. I still haven't tried his westerns.