The Classmates -- A Mystery Novel
Bonneville Books , 2003. Quality Paperback:
Suggested retail price: $15.95 (US)
Yucca Flats, Nevada, is a pretty desolate place. One casino graces thetown, but that's about it. It's a place where people bake in the heat andmind each others' business.
In this curious story, we meet five women who first met as youngsters, butwho had grown apart over the years. They're now seniors, and some hadmoved away from the humdrum little town, but all five have now foundthemselves back in Yucca Flats.
When one of them, Theona Worley, is found murdered in her home, theincompetent oaf of a sheriff begins a cursory investigation -- he's clearlyin above his head, but the boob can't admit this, even to himself. Andwhen a second of the five women dies, panic sets in as it becomes clearthat someone is targeting the five women.
Valdean Purdy is one of these five women. A part-time real estate agentand full-time busybody, she, along with a detective from a neighboringcounty, push the investigation forward. Valdean is sure that there issomething to be learned in Theona's house, some clue that will blow thiscase wide open. And you dare not stand in Valdean's way -- yeah, she'sthat kind of person.
With each chapter, we learn more about the eccentrics of Yucca Flats. Infact, it seems that everyone is eccentric in this town. There's barely anormal person in the group. From the gardener to the sheriff to thepostmaster, they're all a little screwy. And, I suppose, this is one wayto describe this book -- a little screwy. Oh, for the record, I likescrewy.
The narrator of the story haunts the reader to the very end -- you're neverquite sure who he is, or how he knows this story at all. This adds a bitto the suspense. And the resolution of the mystery is very satisfying -- Ishould have seen it coming, but I didn't.
The Classmates is an engaging, enjoyable read, with enough weirdness tokeep the story moving and the reader engaged. And although the editing andproduction of the book are generally good, an editor should have caughtreferences to Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple" as "Miss Marpole," and TV'sNYPD Blue as NYPD Blues. Very odd mistakes in an otherwisenicely-produced volume.
There seems to be enough character development in this book to keep thestory going. Will Arnold keep the ball rolling? I don't know. But I doknow that I wouldn't mind revisiting the nutty world of Yucca Flats.
Jeff Needle August 24, 2004
© 2004 Jeff Needle