Saturday, May 22, 2010

'Pecos Valley Revival', 2011, Alice Duncan, Five Star/Cengage

In 1923 Annabelle Blue is 19 when she and her friend Myrtle watch the fall cattle drive coming through Rosedale, New Mexico. Ranches within hundreds of miles participate, culminating in a rodeo and big party that lasts for days. But this October there is another entertaining event in town, a tent revivalist; Rev. Milo Strickland and his sister Esther are the preachers. Myrtle has gone to some of the meetings as well as Phil Gunderson, Annabelle's 'boyfriend' and were 'saved' and are trying to convince Annabelle to go but she wants no part of the 'hell and damnation' preaching. Although Myrtle is quite captivated by the Stricklands and Phil seems interested in Esther, Annabelle just doesn't trust her and feels there is something strange about the preachers. The Gundersons will be hosting the rodeo and all the parties at their ranch and everyone in town is looking forward to it, especially Annabelle's 'obnoxious' 12 year old brother Jack. Annabelle notices strange situations occurring here and there at the ranch during the festivities and before long a cowboy gets very sick and dies; she learns that he was poisoned and Annabelle becomes even more watchful of the comings and goings of the people, but cannot prevent another murder.

Duncan has a unique flair for explicit characterization; each main character is described physically but the reader really gets to know them through dialogue, actions and substance. 'Pecos Valley Revival' shows Duncan's skillfulness with interweaving plots that hold your interest while enlighteming us about 1923 New Mexico and cowboys. Her writing in unparalleled for interest and quality.

I could not put this book down!

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