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What She Saw
by Rachel Lee
(HRS #1743, $5.50 PG) ISBN 978-0-373-27813-8
***
Rachel Lee is back in Conard County, Wyoming with the next generation, and she has done a fine job of including some of her more popular characters of the past.

The novel opens as Haley Martin, a waitress at the local truck stop, witnesses a nighttime incident in the parking lot that puzzles her. She notices a transfer of some cargo from a large truck to a smaller box truck that then drove away. She mentions it to her co-waitress Claire and then keeps working.  A little later those in the truck stop are informed that one of the truckers had run off the road and died, minutes after he left the truck stop.

Claire is concerned because she not only knew the driver and had gone to school with him, but she had apparently been one of the last people to talk with him before he left the diner.  This truck stop in Conard County is a favorite stop of cross country truckers and their clientele includes some regulars. One of the regulars is Buck Devlin, driving the route from Seattle south and return. Haley noticed this very good looking man but she has a strictly hands off policy when it comes to her customers.

Devlin is former military investigator and, after a troubled investigation left him with a bullet and a medical discharge, he turned to what he regarded as a worry free way to make a living. His employer knew of his past career and when his shipments started having inconsistencies in their cargo manifests, inconsistencies which could only mean transfers of cargo in transit, he asked Buck to investigate in the area of Conard County which they thought might be the midpoint of transfers.

Buck is attracted to Haley and conceives the idea that she would be the perfect "excuse" to stick around Conard County on a week's vacation. He overlooks the importance of what Haley saw and inadvertently makes her a target.

He does eventually share with her what he is doing, and involves the Sheriff's Department in the investigation that follows. Buck comes to base his investigation upon what Haley saw, and the connection to the family of the deceased trucker.

The weakest part of the story is the suspension of disbelief that is required to place Conard County at the forefront in a smuggling scheme of cross country trucking. The strength of the story is the excellent character development and the interaction among them. And the author does a good job with the romantic tension between Haley and Buck which increases in tempo with the escalating threats posed by the criminals.

--Thea Davis


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