Sign Off by Patricia McLinn (Craig Place Books, 2015) is the first mystery in her Caught Dead in Wyoming series. Elizabeth Danniher (E.M.) was a successful television journalist until her marriage to a network executive fell apart. In sheer spite, he arranges for her to work out the remainder of her contract in a small town in Wyoming where she is allowed two segments a week on the consumer protection beat. She rents a ramshackle house that includes a ghostly figure in her back yard that might be a very thin dog. She sets food and water out every day that disappears, even though she doesn’t see the animal that consumes them.
Going through the motions as she tries to come to terms with her changed life, she is pulled accidentally into the inquiry surrounding the disappearance of a roundly disliked sheriff’s deputy. The deputy disappeared six months previously but nothing much seems to have been done to locate him. The County Prosecutor and the County Sheriff are derisive of her attempts and discourage them at every opportunity, but she decides to continue to ask questions in order to keep her investigative skills sharp. The station sports anchor decides he wants in on the action and the two make a good team, using his local knowledge and contacts and using her professional journalistic expertise. While no evidence of the deputy’s death has been found, everyone assumes that he is dead and the rancher whose wife the deputy filched is responsible. E.M. finds this assumption of guilt premature, especially since the deputy seemed to have given a lot of people cause to wish him ill.
The staff of KWMT-TV in Sherman, Wyoming, is unfriendly and suspicious but the news anchor is downright hostile. The various ways he manages to upstage E.M. and make her look bad show the author is well acquainted with newsroom backstabbing. The station manager is under the news anchor’s thumb so he is able to make E.M.’s office life miserable.
The description of Wyoming, the land and its people, is wonderful, and E.M. is vividly depicted, floundering personally and professionally after a devastating divorce. Her interactions with her tight-knit family underline her exile far away from everyone she knows and loves. Well-paced and written, unfortunately the plot has holes; it is not clear to me how the resolution was reached, as satisfying as it was. A pleasant read on the cozy end of the spectrum. Review is based on the Kindle version.
· File Size: 4150 KB
· Print Length: 234 pages
· Publisher: Craig Place Books (July 2, 2015)
· Publication Date: July 2, 2015
· ASIN: B010W3GM9W
Aubrey Hamilton © 2018
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal IT projects by day and reads mysteries at night.