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.
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About 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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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!"
"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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Good plot involved characters
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
I found this book hard to follow, as it jumped around too much. I will not be looking for more reads from this author.
The shecat looks at them. "We are not rougues if we are in a cnam."
She nodded warily.