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Broken Places    by Sandra Parshall Amazon.com order for
Broken Places
by Sandra Parshall
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Sandra Parshall's Broken Places should come with a warning do not open unless you have several hours of uninterrupted time available. From the first page to the very last, suspense reigns. Broken Places is the third mystery by this talented author. Her writing speaks of longer at the trade.

We travel back in time to the Appalachians in the 1960s with the VISTA Program, the War on Poverty. A small group of idealists arrive, hoping to change the living conditions of the poor. Now, we fast forward to today to meet the same people, who have moved ahead in the world. But have they really?

One of the VISTA volunteers is shot to death. Then his wife is found dead in their burned out house. We become involved as Rachel Goddard, a veterinarian from Washington, D.C., is a witness and so feels threatened. In her private life, she has been seeing the local law, Tom Bridger, but her involvement in the crimes makes her doubt her own feelings as well as his.

The plot is fast-paced, dripping with suspense, and contains characters both good and bad, but all believable. My only complaint - very minor - is the reference that is made to the Melungeons. The reference is then dropped. I read this author's first two books - Heat of the Moon and Disturbing the Dead (equally as good) - in which the Melungeons appeared and found the reference intriguing. But my memory is short and I could not call up the details I had read. And sure didn't want to put the book down to check the Internet.

All in all, though, Broken Places is definitely well worth the time. Most enjoyable.

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