Every Little Thing
by Linda Winstead Jones
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1007, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-27077-1
***
The carnival has come to Red Grove, Alabama. As in most small rural towns, everyone turns out to enjoy the fun. Ex-Deputy John Quaid is the pariah in the crowd. Ignored and isolated from the town's people, he is there in response to an anonymous note to meet someone who claims "to know the truth.

The truth John is seeking is the identity of the person who murdered his ex-wife. Public opinion has tried and convicted him of the crime, and then subsequently of two other murdered women. Each victim was linked to him in some way; each had the same physical profile, killed in the same location with the same type of murder weapon. The sole reason John is walking around instead of languishing in jail is that there is no physical evidence to tie him to the crimes. He did lose his job, which for him was debilitating punishment.

While walking the midway, John encounters Lady Lucretia, a phony clairvoyant. Lady L is really Lucy Fain, a domestic abuse victim who fell into the hard carny life after escaping with no marketable skills. These two lonely people meet. Intrigued and gratified that at least one person is nice to him, John sets up a date. But Lucy doesn't come, kept away by an attempt on her life. When John arrives on the scene, Lucy realizes that the Sheriff's Department suspects him.

In an unrealistic highhanded way, the Sheriff installs Lucy in a nearby motel in order to guard her, since the attacker had promised that he would be back for her. John doesn't trust the Sheriff's Department any more, so he becomes her self appointed protector.

John and Lucy are well-developed characters; each with tons of emotional baggage, and not the least of which is their respective inability to trust people. This story centers, circles, twists and turns on trust issues.

John and Lucy slowly learn to start trusting each other and fall in love. There is well-contained chemistry between them. Leisurely, the plot unfolds. The pace of Every Little Thing is very unhurried.

The characters are interesting, the plot is clever, and the author artfully captures the minds of the people who live in this small southern community, setting her scene well. The crisp dialogue always stays in voice. These virtues are overshadowed, however, when the pace grinds on, examining the predominant theme of violation of trust time and time again.

--Thea Davis


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