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Brown-Eyed Girl
     

Brown-Eyed Girl

4.4 5
by Virginia Swift
 

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Sally Alder is a couple of ears past her wild youth as the hard-drinking, guitar playing, hell-raising singer known as Mustang Sally. But then she's grown with age, She's wiser and more coolheaded now, and, more important, Sally has learned how to keep a secret. It's a good thing, too, because she's going to need every advantage she's gained in order to handle the

Overview

Sally Alder is a couple of ears past her wild youth as the hard-drinking, guitar playing, hell-raising singer known as Mustang Sally. But then she's grown with age, She's wiser and more coolheaded now, and, more important, Sally has learned how to keep a secret. It's a good thing, too, because she's going to need every advantage she's gained in order to handle the job she's just taken.

Imagine having to move from LA to Laramie to get a thrill.

A professor of history at UCLA, Sally has just been offered the hugely endowed and deliciously secretive Dunwoodie Distinguished Chair in American Women's History at the University of Wyoming. Job description: Move into the late Meg Dunwoodie's posh residence in Laramie (the only one of its kind) and, with sole proprietors of her papers, construct the definitive Meg Dunwoodie biography--without telling anyone anything about it.

Sally Alder is a couple of ears past her wild youth as the hard-drinking, guitar playing, hell-raising singer known as Mustang Sally. But then she's grown with age, She's wiser and more coolheaded now, and, more important, Sally has learned how to keep a secret. It's a good thing, too, because she's going to need every advantage she's gained in order to handle the job she's just taken.

Imagine having to move from LA to Laramie to get a thrill.

A professor of history at UCLA, Sally has just been offered the hugely endowed and deliciously secretive Dunwoodie Distinguished Chair in American Women's History at the University of Wyoming. Job description: Move into the late Meg Dunwoodie's posh residence in Laramie (the only one of its kind) and, with sole proprietors of her papers, construct the definitive Meg Dunwoodie biography--without telling anyone anything about it.

In this town, rumors abound and secrets are practically nonexistent.

Of course, everyone knows that Sally has been hired to poke through old Meg's papers, and a lot of people think that somewhere among them sits a treasure map that could lead to a fortune in gold Krugerrands. Oneway or another, most of Laramie is determined to getinto Meg Dunwoodie's house.

There are break-ins, a curious sheriff, gossipy friends, and avaricious faculty at the university. And, if that isn't enough to distract Sally from her research, sexy Hawk Green has shown up to rekindle a romance Sally thought was gone forever.

But all this goes deeper and the stakes are higher thanSally could have imagined. As she delves intoMeg's romantic and heartbreaking past as a foreigncorrespondent in Paris during World War II, the forces of good and evil are aligning in Laramie, and Sally realizes that, truly, those who don't learn from their pasts are doomed to repeat it.

In the tradition, of Susan Isaacs and Fannie Flagg, Virginia Swift has written a story that breaks the mold, with a cast of finely drawn characters and a heroine whose wit and intelligence are matched only by herdetermination.

Editorial Reviews

Albuquerque Journal
A thoroughly enjoyable, many-layered literary mysteryand a rollicking romance.
Dallas Morning News
A refreshing new detective...funny, intelligent, and sassy.
Stephen White
A dazzling, dangerously funny debut ...Virginia Swift threatens to do for Wyoming historians whatJanet Evanovich has done for New Jersey bounty hunters.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As much a mainstream story of two gutsy Wyoming women as it is a mystery, Swift's first novel captivates. Meg Dunwoodie, a newspaperwoman well known for her tough, incisive political reporting, returned to her native Wyoming from Europe just as WWII broke out and never left home again. Like Emily Dickinson, she became famous for her poetry only after her death. Now her estate has endowed a chair in American women's history at the University of Wyoming. History professor Sally Alder is appointed to the professorship on the condition that she live in Meg's house in Laramie and write the poet's biography. Sally, who was locally famous as a "hell-raising" bar singer 20 years earlier and is struggling with changes in her life, returns to Wyoming to begin to uncover the truth about Meg's past. But someone keeps breaking into the house, perhaps to look for the cache of Krugerrands that are the stuff of local legend. Unknown parties paint Sally's car with swastikas, while strangers in camouflage gear descend on the town during a blizzard. Skinheads, neo-Nazis, professors, lawmen, barmaids and others with secrets of their own converge as Sally unravels Meg's story, discovering why the woman buried herself in smalltown America after living the life of a European sophisticate. Swift develops her engaging tale gracefully, with a real feel for the atmosphere of its Wyoming setting. Agent, Elaine Koster. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Forty-five-year-old Sally Alder (a.k.a. Mustang Sally, country singer), Ph.D., has just been appointed to a distinguished professorship in women's history at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. As she begins sorting through the archives of the secretive Margaret Dunwoodie, Wyoming's most distinguished poet, she digs up questions that span most of the 20th century. How did Margaret amass a fortune? Why are skinheads breaking into Margaret's historic house and trashing Sally's car? Sally uncovers an amazing range of clues, including uncut diamonds, French Resistance fighters, and secret assassination plots--all the while contending with a militia run by a reactionary millionaire, sleazebags, good old boys, and antifeminist faculty. The delightfully heterogeneous cast of characters includes ex-doper Sheriff Dickie Langham, formidable housekeeper extraordinaire Maude Stark, and ponytailed geology professor Hawk Green, once Sally's lover. This witty, warm, engrossing first novel is highly recommended for larger fiction and mystery collections.--Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062133533
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/22/2011
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
652,042
File size:
4 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Twenty Thousand Roads

Three days from LA. Almost there.

Over the high country, late afternoon sun glinting off die rocks and shining grasslands where Colorado rose into Wyoming. Sally fiddled around trying to pick up a radio station (Broncos 17, Patriots driving, stupid exhibition season football) and put up with static until she could see the Monolith Cement Plant. Then she could indulge herself and slip the tape in the slot. She caught sight of some antelope loping dark shadows across the golden meadows, with day waning into night, lights flickering on in the Laramie valley and the tiniest August chill in the air.

She'd had the hammer down since Longmont where the traffic thinned out, and found the cutoff that put Fort Collins behind her. She could never resist the urge to see what kind of time she could make between the Denver Mousetrap, where I-25 and I-70 snarled, and the first sight of the lights of Laramie coming on in the dusk. Two hours and twenty minutes, for what some people called a three-hour drive. She sang, loudly, along with the tape, along with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris and her whole fife. Sang her way down twenty thousand roads. Maybe, finally, heading straight back home.

The sun painted the hills pink. The air got just a taste chillier. Sally could really get nostalgic now, if she weren't obliged to history, so adept at remembering the bad with the good. How they'd all headed west, to grow up with the country...

Shit!

Where the flaming hell did that cop car come from?

So much for the peaceful fading glow of day in the high country. Now it was bubblegumlights in the rearview, and Sally's perfect certainty that she'd had the Mustang doing better than seventy passing the Holiday Inn, and despite her most earnest efforts, over fifty as Route 287 turned into Third Street. What was the statute of limitations in Wyoming? She looked again in the mirror, knew she was cooked, slowed and pulled over to the right, heart pounding.

California plates. A '64 Mustang, restored to sleek perfection by the Mustang King of LA, doing maybe fiftyseven miles per hour in a thirty zone entering Laramie, Wyoming: She was dead meat, looking at a ticket for a hundred bucks easy She turned off the tape, composed her face. She wondered again about. ancient outstanding warrants, looking at the police cruiser in the rearview. She leaned over slowly and opened the glovebox

The Laramie cop did things with his brake, his radio, ins clipboard, his hat, got out of his cop car, walked up to her window, peered down at her through predictably mirrored sunglasses, and drawled genially, "Well, Sally, guess you'd better slow that Mustang down.,,

She stopped in the middle of getting out the registration slip. Freakin' Dickie Langham. Guess this was Road Number 20,000 after all.

He didn't give her a ticket. instead, he gave her the biggest hug she'd had since the last time, sixteen years ago. He hadn't gotten any shorter than the six foot four inches he'd been back when he'd been tending bar at Dr. Mudflaps, and he hadn't gotten any lighter. Back then, Mudflaps had the gaff to pretend to be an upscale restaurant and lounge but was really a place with orange plastic booths (red leatherette? Sure.) and a brisk trade in bad white stuff. Dickie had been carrying maybe thirty pounds less than now, had been a completely different color (greenish gray-white to his current reasonably tan) and extensively more jittery. That's what living on Dr. Langham's Miracle Diet (booze and blow) would do for you. He'd been unerringly decent then, in his own way, and funny as hell, but not so much so that four big guys from Boulder had seen either the humanity or the humor of his coming up a little short of cash one time when they were in town.

"The Boulder guys were drinking black coffee," Dickie explained to Sally, "and they weren't enjoying being squeezed into one of those orange booths. I had experienced their form of persuasion the year before," he recalled as they looked at the plastic-covered menus in the Wrangler Bar and Grill. "My shoulder still aches sometimes from where they simulated ripping my arm off. Extremely frightening guys. So, lacking the money to pay them, I told them I was going into the back room to get something and, well, I came back eleven years later."

By the time he returned to Laramie, Dickie said, as he requested a double cheeseburger, an order of rings, an order of fries, a side salad with blue cheese dressing, and an iced tea, the Boulder guys were who knows where, and the sensible people who ran the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy had use for somebody who'd personally seen law enforcement from a variety of different points of view, but upon whom nobody could seem to make a particular rap stick. He had picked up some valuable skins along the way, including familiarity with a range of firearms, fluency in Spanish, and intimacy with the rigors, rewards, and limitations of twelve-step programs. Now he was an Albany County deputy sheriff with four years in, likeliest candidate for sheriff when the incumbent moved on to the state legislature this November. Dickie was a lucky man on his way up in the sometimes forgiving (or at least forgetting) state of Wyoming.

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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Brown-Eyed Girl 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alittle slow getting the story started..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am over a third of the way in abd no murder yet. Too much sex and not enough cliff hanger.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun with great twists turns and characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago