Sunshine and shadow / Earlene Fowler.
Booklist Monthly Selections - # 1 May 2003
The Benni Harper mysteries all have quilt patterns for their titles, and quilts figure prominently. Benni's latest opens with her grandmother Dove's marriage in the San Celina, California, church where Benni's own first marriage took place. The tale slips between the present (1995 here) and 1978, when Benni was a young married college student writing a paper on her favorite author, a local writer of Nancy Drew-type stories for girls. There's loss aplenty in Benni's circle, where everyone seems to have lost a spouse or a child, but there's tenderness, too, and an honest religious faith that pervades but does not smother the dailiness of life. Benni's new second husband is the Latino police chief. An old friend of his comes to town and is killed; Benni's author also returns to San Celina and is threatened; someone is stalking Benni herself. The many plotlines converge in a warmhearted spiral that includes the difficulties of marriage, the complexities of a large multiethnic circle of overlapping friends and relations, and old, buried secrets. ((Reviewed May 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews
PW Review 2003 April #2
Agatha Award winner Fowler offers two parallel plots to dramatize the alternating light-and-dark theme of her 10th beguiling mystery to feature Benni Harper, the San Celina, Calif., amateur sleuth and folk art museum curator. The first is set in 1978, when she's married to rancher Jack Harper; the second in 1995, when she's married to police chief Gabe Ortiz, whom she almost lost to Gabe's old lover Del Hernandez in her previous outing, Steps to the Altar (2002). In the "present" of 1995, when mystery writer and one-time San Selina resident Emma Baldwin loans a crazy quilt for display at the folk art museum, Benni is excited, though the quilt brings back mixed feelings about Jack. Then, shortly after arriving in town on a hush-hush case, PI Luke Webster, a former LAPD pal of Gabe's, gets stabbed to death. Frightening attacks on Benni's truck, creepy phone calls and hate mail follow. Benni must draw on all her crime-solving skills to find the pattern in the clues presented in this ingenious mystery. The overabundance of incidental detail may put off some, but most readers will relish the author's appealing picture of ranch life and small-town affairs, of barbecues and fiestas, of jocular locals and warm family and friends. Agent, Ellen Gieger. (May 6) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.