See Also Murder (2015) by Larry D. Sweazy
Marjorie Trumaine is trying to get used to her new life. Farming in 1964 North Dakota has never been easy, but everything is much harder after her husband Hank had an accident that left him blind and paralyzed. In order to help meet the bills, she took up a job as a free-lance professional indexer. She's under deadline for a book on the myth of headhunter civilizations when Sheriff Hilo Jenkins comes to her with horrific news.
The Trumaines' nearest neighbors, Erik and Lida Knudsen, have been found murdered in their beds. Their boys Peter and Jaeger are fine--well, as fine as they can be after the discovery--and the only clue is an ancient Norse amulet that was found clutched in Erik's hand. Jenkins knows that Marjorie's job involves research and asks her to try and find out what she can about the strange object.
As Marjorie dives into Norse mythology more murders occur and each seems to have a connection with what she finds. The Sheriff's wife is killed and found holding a sprig of mistletoe. Then a professor from the local university who had an interest in Norse history and folklore is also murdered. What is the connection? Marjorie, who is used to cross-referencing and finding connections, feels like she ought to know, but her personal troubles and the looming deadline for her job keep distracting her. Will she find the right reference before it's too late?
The mystery plot is good--Sweazy lays down the clues (although I missed several important ones) and gives the kaleidoscope a final shake and twist that keeps the solution on theme but provides an interesting surprise. I also like Marjorie a lot--she's a strong female character in a time when women weren't expected to be quite so tough. I did have a bit of trouble with the depressing atmosphere. Poor Hank, it's difficult in the scenes with him in them. The murders are also quite brutal.
Sweazy does a great job capturing the time period and the North Dakota setting is quite vivid. I've only been to the state once (in the 70s), but the scenes in the book had a definite familiarity. A good, solid first book in the series. ★★★
First line: I saw a plume of dust through the window over my desk, and something told me trouble was heading my way.
Last lines: Shep barked, circled after me, and followed me into the house, happy to be inside, watching over Hank and I (sic). And I was glad of it too.
Deaths = 8 (five stabbed; one shot; two natural)