Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: Pecos Valley Revival
Author: Alice Duncan
Release Date: February 2011
Genre/Sub-genre: (Historical) Romantic Suspense
Year/Setting: Rosedale, New Mexico, 1923
Overall Rating: 3.5
Sexual Content Rating: None
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: Minimal
Alice's Website/Blog: www.aliceduncan.net
Rosedale, New Mexico is usually a very dull town with little out of the ordinary going on. That’s why cattle drives are so exciting. It gives a whole new spark of life to a slow-moving town. The fall cattle drive is the favorite because after the drive is done, it’s time for the fall rodeo. Annabelle Blue is excited to have October 1923 arrive since she can’t wait for the cattle drive and rodeo. There is another major event going on in the town of Rosedale, but Annabelle is not nearly as interested in it. A tent revival has come to town and while the Rev. Strickland seems to be a nice enough man, his sister is an angelic beauty who is turning the heads of many men in town. The man Annabelle isn’t happy about is her beau, Phil Gunderson. He seems to be spending more and more time with Esther Strickland and less and less time with Annabelle. While they’ve never spoken of plans for the future, Annabelle has always believed they would eventually marry. Now she’s trying not to see green as Esther latches onto her man while making double edged comments to Annabelle.
In spite of the revival, Annabelle is determined to make the most of the fall rodeo. With or without Phil, she can still have fun. But when one of the stars of the rodeo, Kenny Sawyer, falls ill and dies, it casts a pall on the events. The town is stunned when they learn Kenny was poisoned. Now they know there’s a killer somewhere in their midst. And with all the extra folks in town for the rodeo, it’s hard to determine who could have done such a horrible thing. Annabelle starts to sleuth on her own to see if she can figure out who killed Kenny. But when another death occurs, life in Rosedale becomes changed forever. Nobody trusts anyone and people are looking over their shoulders.
As Annabelle tracks down her suspects—including her own brother—she worries that she might be next on the killer’s list.
A fast-paced mystery uniquely set in the early 20th Century. I enjoyed the setting of the story and found that putting it in the early 20’s gave some unique twists into the mystery. Annabelle is a wonderful girl—although not really much of a detective. She seems to bumble along and often finds more suspects than she eliminates. She’s a little black and white in her thinking and that sometimes was a problem for me as I see a lot of gray areas in life. The love interest between her and Phil gives the story a little more depth and, at times, it provides a little comedic relief.
Annabelle’s best friend Myrtle is another lovely young woman. In a lot of ways, I identified more with Myrtle as she reminded me of people I grew up with and of people who are friends of mine. As the story progresses, I began to suspect everyone from the doctor to Annabelle’s friends. The ending really surprised me and while it made a lot of sense, it was certainly not the expected end.
I enjoyed the story and enjoyed watching Annabelle try to figure out who turned their little town upside down.
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