This book was picked because for its setting in North Dakota, but turned out to be about a setting of 1930s rural America. Author Harold Adams has garnered praise for his mysteries with P.I. Carl Wilcox as the antagonist including a Shamus award for The Man Who was Taller than God. In this taste of life during the depression, Wilcox goes to the aid of his sister’s friend who is accused of killing her husband albeit in a neighbor’s home.
Wilcox leaves his money-making efforts behind (he repaints signs for merchants) and gets to the task while at the same time training his nephew in the art of fighting the town bully and providing sexual favors to some widows in exchange for information. Wilcox who is a World War I veteran and has done jail time and been a police officer before taking on part time private eye work seemed to be very one dimensional. None of the characters were very likeable even the kind-hearted sister.
I could almost hear the screen doors slamming every time someone came in or out of a house. Summertime in a small town took on entirely new meaning with no shortage of possible killers all female incidentally. The ending saved Wilcox’s sister’s friend from jail or a trial but did not really seem to solve the crime. Does anyone really commit suicide by slitting their own throat? Questions lingered. It’s is enough to create a desire to read another of Adams series about Carl Wilcox to see if others are more substantial.