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Death Pans Out    by Ashna Graves Amazon.com order for
Death Pans Out
by Ashna Graves
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Journalist Jeneva Leopold takes to the hills to heal both physically and mentally from a double mastectomy. She roams the rocky ridges in the sagebrush desert of Eastern Oregon where her uncle mined for gold with his partner. Shirtless and with rolled up shorts, she recovers her strength, as close to nature as possible while she piles up miles of walking.

Neva is staying in her uncle's cabin he having disappeared fifteen years previously. The only fly in the ointment is the sound of a diesel truck at night laboring up the steep trails. Why is the truck there in the dead of night? What could be its mission?

As Neva ponders this question on her walks, the reader joins her and experiences the wild flowers, the grand views from the tops of ridges, and the lovely trees that tower over the landscape. Hard to think that evil could lurk amidst all that beauty. But it does and Neva follows its trail to her own detriment.

The pace of Death Pans Out is just a bit slow but it makes up for this in a lollapalooza of an ending. The characters are those one might expect to meet in a sparsely populated area - tough, self-sufficient, solving their own problems with a laid back view of the world, but angry at what they consider perfidy, and highly likeable. The officials come off as one would expect officious. This is a well-written first book.

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