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Bad Company

Bad Company

4.4 7
by Virginia Swift

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Jubilee Days: Laramie, Wyoming's annual rodeo bash and sin fest. It's a whole week of broncos bucking, guitars twanging, and cash registers ringing. Nobody much wants to spoil the party, not even when a local loser turns up dead in the mountains east of town.

Almost nobody. Sally Adler and Hawk Green, a couple of college professors out for an afternoon hike,


Jubilee Days: Laramie, Wyoming's annual rodeo bash and sin fest. It's a whole week of broncos bucking, guitars twanging, and cash registers ringing. Nobody much wants to spoil the party, not even when a local loser turns up dead in the mountains east of town.

Almost nobody. Sally Adler and Hawk Green, a couple of college professors out for an afternoon hike, find the body, and for Sally and Hawk, murder is anything but academic. Like the victim, Sally's done her time in the glare of the late-night neon lights, and she knows how thin the line can be between honky-tonk angels and lost souls. She's determined to do what she can to see justice. Hawk knows he'd better stay close and keep his eyes open. Sally has a way of attracting the wrong kind of attention.

From the jam-packed barrooms to the wide-open spaces, Sally and Hawk unravel the dark threads of a sinister scheme. It's a race to find the killer before Sally becomes the next victim.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following a well-received debut (2000's Brown-Eyed Girl), the new adventure featuring "Mustang" Sally Adler (for the car, not the horse) and the living jewel called Wyoming is another delectable tale of strong women of the West. Swift gives readers a lot to like: wicked satire of pompous academics, smart but not smart-alecky writing, the achingly beautiful landscape of the eastern Rockies, great sex between grownups old enough to know what they're doing and why and most of all, the dead-on portrayal of a Western town, in this case Laramie, Wyo. (pop. 27,000). A history professor at the University of New Mexico, Swift clearly knows how Westerners act and think. When the going gets tough, they "cowboy up." They say to the government, "Just give me the check and get the hell out." Their idea of fancy Saturday night garb is dress jeans and cowboy boots. They work phrases from country songs into their everyday conversation, and name their children after country singers. When Sally's best friend marries a rodeo rider named Walker Davis, what else would they call their son but Jerry Jeff Walker Davis? The core plot is not complex, but it feels real. Two main threads the rape and murder of a young woman who's no one's candidate for the girl next door and a land swap deal that stinks of greed and corruption even before toxic groundwater is discovered are resolved in a way that poignantly reminds us that sometimes morality has murky edges. All told, this is a refreshing piece of work by a strong new talent. Agent, Elaine Koster. (June 18) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
After language arts teacher Margo Brown (Why Johnny Died) and her husband discover an old gun buried in their garden, Margo cannot resist investigating. Working with clues from her husband and his ninetyish father, who remembers the 50-year-old unsolved shooting of a local landowner, plus research results from the library and reminiscences from the victim's relatives, Margo manages to ruffle some important feathers. This intriguing puzzle is fleshed out with bucolic details of cooking, gardening, yard work, and gossip in rural Indiana. A pleasant read; for regional and larger mystery collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Trashy Monette Bandy, who dropped her panties for any man, no matter how mean or ugly, seems to have dropped them once too often. Her final escapade left her dead in a crevasse in the hills of Laramie, Wyoming, where geologist Hawk Green and history professor Sally Adler, found her body while hiking and alerted her kin, Sheriff Dickie Langham. Sally, who's nosed around murder before (Brown-Eyed Girl, 2000), is soon nearly a victim herself. During the weeklong celebration of Laramie's Jubilee Days, she's pushed into the path of a bucking bronc; her house is broken into and her lingerie destroyed; and someone, perhaps Monette's drunken coot of a dad, whispers threats over her phone. What does she know without knowing she knows it that's so dangerous for her? A lot less than Hawk, who uncovers a proposed land swap that would settle unsuspecting nature-lover Molly Wood atop a toxic waste site in exchange for her current home on thousands of ecologically sound acres ripe for development. But it's Sally who ties the land swap to Monette and an abortive attempt at blackmail and identifies the greedy killers. Despite all the activity, this sophomore effort is a tad heavy-handed, with too many dysfunctional relatives, too much kissy-kissy between Hawk and Sally, and a final twist that doesn't quite ring true.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Death Trap

Sally Alder had never been all that big on the notion that the two sexes were, in some fundamental way, opposites. She tended to believe that men and women had a lot more in common than, say, palm trees and golden retrievers, and she'd always held that any woman had the potential to be as big a jerk as any man.

But she was beginning to think that there might be some differences between the genders that were hardwired. Take, for example, the inability of male drivers to navigate supermarket parking lots. Every time you came within a hair of a head-on with some flea brain evidently unaware of the fact that all the parked cars were pointing in one (i.e., the other) direction, you just knew there'd be a guy behind the wheel. Even Hawk Green, a man who could find his way through the densest forest and navigate across the most trackless desert with the confidence of a man getting in an elevator, seemed to have a brain freeze every time he had to tackle the grocery store lot.

On this lovely Wyoming summer morning, the parking lot of the Laramie Lifeway was terrifyingly full of them, in big rusting pickups and behemoth RVs and SUVs, half of them hauling horse trailers, scaring the hell out of the regular shoppers and the mild-mannered tourist families who had the lack of imagination to be headed down the aisles in the normal way. Sally'd decided to play it safe and park halfway down an empty row, far from the store, when a long-bed king-cab Ford swerved ass-backward into the space right next to her. Just as she was opening the doorof her mint-condition, 1964 1/2 Mustang and stepping out, three happy cowpokes in plaid shirts and brand-new straw hats leaped out of the Ford in a clatter of empty beer cans, hauled a giant Coleman cooler out of the bed of the pickup, pulled the plug on the bottom, and started draining cooler water all over her new Italian sandals. She looked down into the open cooler. A ballooning plastic bag containing a loaf of Wonder bread and a half-open pack of bologna floated in two inches of cloudy fluid.

Bologna water on her new shoes.

She gave the pokes a murderous look, but they were too busy deciding that their lunch looked good enough to go another day. Fine. Maybe they'd get botulism.

To be fair, the pokes weren't the only source of congestion. Threading her way to the store, Sally first ran afoul of a Winnebago with Nebraska plates unloading an oversize couple, tempers inflamed by raging red sunburns, fighting about whose idea it had been to spend Sunday by the pool at the Little America campground, and who had forgotten that the sun was stronger at high altitude. Then she was nearly run down by a pair of spandex-clad mountain bikers who were treating the parking lot like the rad-most slickrock at Moab. And finally, wonder of wonders, a vintage Volkswagen van sat blocking the handicapped access ramp. The van had disgorged a tribe of pierced and tattooed dreadheads in tie-dyed T-shirts and jeans, panhandling shoppers for grub money.

Jubilee Days. Every July, for one week, it was the same. Here it was only Monday morning, and already the multitude was gathering for the feast. Laramie locals had three choices: party down, hunker down, or get out.

Long experience had taught Sally to plan a combination of the three, starting with getting out. She and Hawk were taking the afternoon off and heading up to the mountains for a hike. The Laramie Range, east of town on the way to Cheyenne, wasn't as high or as breathtaking as the Snowies, but it was a shorter drive. Hawk could get some work done in the morning, and she figured she'd get in a bout of grocery shopping. Pulling a cart out from the line of them nested together, she nearly collided with the red-faced Nebraskans. Yep, "bout" was the word.

Laramie had four supermarkets, and Sally had shopped them all and settled on the Lifeway. It was closest to her house, she knew where everything was, and now and then she could even find a piece of fish that didn't look like it had been forced to crawl all the way from the ocean to Wyoming. Ordinarily she found the store well enough stocked, spacious, and clean. The employees, if not uniformly friendly and helpful, were at least not generally surly and incompetent. A model consumer experience, even though she and Hawk had the habit of referring to the place as "the Death Trap."

Today the place was nearing overload. The aisles were jammed. The shelves had already been denuded of high-demand items like hot dogs and Oreos and Velveeta, and the stock clerks were having a hard time keeping up. Sally was rushing through her own shopping and trying to get the hell out of there when, as was inevitable, she ran into someone she knew, who wanted to yak. Amber McCloskey, a University of Wyoming student who was house-sitting for Sally's friends Edna McCaffrey and Tom Youngblood, was bearing down on her with a cartload of trail mix, instant oatmeal, and macaroni and cheese. "Hey, Dr. Alder! How you doin'?" she said cheerfully, the metal stud in her tongue flapping up and down in a hypnotic little dance.

"Hey, Amber," Sally returned weakly, registering two facial piercings (lip and eyebrow) she wasn't sure she'd seen before. "How's Edna's house?"

"Great! Gosh, I can't believe how big it is compared to my apartment. I don't know how they keep it clean all the time!"

Bad sign.

"And all those plants they've got -- inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs, jeez, it's practically..."

Bad Company. Copyright © by Virginia Swift. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Virginia Swift teaches history at the University of New Mexico. She also writes nonfiction under the name of Virginia Scharff. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Bad Company 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good plot involved characters
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is Jubilee Days in Laramie, Wyoming and the town is filling up with tourists, cowboys and parties interested in the upcoming rodeo circuits. University of Wyoming history professor Sally Adler and her life partner geology professor Hawk Green want a respite from the crowds so they go hiking in the hills where they find the body of Manette, a cashier at the local supermarket.

She was beaten, raped and shot to death and with the town so crowded with revelers, the sheriff isn¿t sure if he can solve the case before the Jubilee days come to a close. To complicate matters, twenty one year old Manette was a woman on the prowl, looking for somebody to fill up her night and she wasn¿t very particular about who it was as long it was male. Sally, a curious mix of sixties liberalism and new millennium pragmatism wants the killer caught and sets out to investigating on her own, making a target of herself along the way.

Readers who like a raunchy, realistically drawn down home heroine will adore the star of BAD COMPANY. The story line moves faster than a running river, taking readers on a ride that is filled with thrills, chills and action. Virginia Swift is a relative newcomer to the mystery genre but with a novel and series like this, she has a bright future ahead of her.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book hard to follow, as it jumped around too much. I will not be looking for more reads from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The shecat looks at them. "We are not rougues if we are in a cnam."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She nodded warily.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago