In the third book in Virginia Swift's acclaimed mystery series, Sally Alder, hailed by USA Today as "Wyoming's version of TV's Jessica Fletcher or Agatha Christie's Miss Marple," is back with her colorful cohorts to investigate a bizarre murder.
Okay, it's embarrassing for a woman of her professional stature and self-image still to have a crush on singer Thomas "Stone" Jackson, a guy whose nickname derives from his legendary propensity for addictive substances. But when Jackson appears one day and asks college professor and sometime sleuth Sally Alder for a little help, she can't say no. Jackson is worried about his ex-wife, folksinger Nina Cruz.
It turns out his concern is justified when Nina is found shot to death in the snow-covered forest behind her house. While the sheriff's office believes Nina's death is most likely a hunting accident, Sally is unconvinced. It's up to her to get to the truth, as she uncovers a plot fueled by a twisted mixture of altruism and greed.
Praised by critics for her "lively characters and surprising plot twists" (Booklist), and "good local color" (Library Journal), Virginia Swift has once again created a fast-paced, clever tale of murder and mayhem, sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
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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.
Read an Excerpt
Bye, Bye, Love
Darlin' Tommy J
The first time she'd heard his voice, sweet and clear, coming through the wire on this new thing called FM, Sally Alder had been totally, utterly gone. Gone, gone, gone, from the moment she'd stood in the record store, looking for the album with the hit song, "Last Night," and found herself staring open-mouthed at the photograph of Stone Jackson on the front. His penetrating, wounded blue eyes conjured a fantasy of passion and intelligence, a vision ignited again and again as she wore out the vinyl, reveling in his songs of warm whimsy and earthy blues, invitation and anguish, loss, love.
Like there'd been this instant connection between them. Fate. Destiny. Please. His debut album had gone platinum. American females by the millions had paid their -- what? $3.50? -- had mooned over that album cover, had fantasized the moment when they'd give him the comfort he so clearly needed. And by the millions, the women of America had managed to grow up and get over it.
Truly it was embarrassing to admit it, but through albums, tapes, CDs, and live concerts, she'd followed the heady highs and desperate downs of his story. She'd dreamed, vividly, of hearing him say the words:
"I need you to help me, Sally."
The precise words Thomas "Stone" Jackson was saying this very minute, sitting in her cluttered office at the top of Hoyt Hall, at the University of Wyoming, in the glory of the last fine day of September. The voice was the same: gentle, mellow, pure, hinting at irony. The long, graceful, string-bean body was just as she'd admired so many times on stage, slung with a guitar, swaying with soul, bopping with the beat, rocking out.
The face, however, had a whole lot more miles on it than the one on that long-ago album cover. It was as if every sign of innocence had been burned away, leaving sharp bones, arched brows, wry mouth. Crow's-feet winged at the corners of those everremarkable eyes. His forehead was deeply etched, and there was a whole lot more of it.
Which mattered to her not a whit. She, too, was on the dark side of forty. Guys who managed to keep up appearances in the middle of the long strange trip suited her just fine.
Still, experience had taught her to be wary of appealing men. Here came Jackson, saying he needed her help. Over the years, she'd extended aid and comfort to enough guys to remember to check her wallet.
"Why me?" she asked Thomas Jackson, keeping her voice low, trying to sound neither eager nor suspicious. "Where'd you get my name?"
"Our mutual friend, Pete," Jackson explained, naming an old boyfriend of Sally's who'd had his own ups and downs, but was currently riding high in the upper echelons of a southern California multimedia empire. "I've just bought a little place outside Cody," Jackson continued. "When Pete found out I planned to spend time in Wyoming, he suggested that I look you up."
A little place! Everyone in the state had heard about Thomas Jackson's purchase of a prime property he called the Busted Heart Ranch. The brand? What else? Two offset halves of a heart. Next to Harrison Ford, Thomas Jackson was pretty much the biggest Hollywood rancher in Wyoming. "Oh yeah?" she said. "That was nice of Pete. We keep in touch, from time to time."
Thomas Jackson grinned faintly. "Pete says you're a nag and a bit of a diva, but that you're brilliant, sexy, and can sing some. And that he's had reason, in tight situations, to find you trustworthy."
"Pete's definition of trustworthy isn't most people's," she replied, trying to ignore the fact that Jackson had blithely announced that he'd casually discussed her sexuality with one of her old lovers. What was that, some kind of blasé Hollywood move? She went for Wyoming blasé. "So what's the problem?"
Jackson leaned back in the dilapidated easy chair usually occupied by students whining for grade changes. "You know Nina Cruz, of course."
Of course. Angelina Cruz, known as Nina: his ex-wife, folk singer icon. Nina had retired from the fast lane in L.A. to seek peace of mind in a gracious, but relatively modest, log house on eighty pretty acres west of Laramie, a spread she called Shady Grove, near the town of Albany, Wyoming. Nina was an ardent wilderness lover, animal-rights activist, and feminist. She drove a Range Rover with bumper stickers that said, MY OTHER CAR IS A BROOM and FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS WEAR FUR. She had once told Sally she believed that, at the deepest level, plutonium, the endangerment of species, and professional football all came from the root toxin of patriarchy.
Who in hell would leave la vida buena in southern California for la vida blizzard in southern Wyoming? Nina for one, evidently; Sally for another. Sally had left UCLA to direct the Dunwoodie Center for Women's History at the University of Wyoming. She and Nina had feminism in common, though Nina was the type of feminist who believed that all women were extensions of the earth goddess, and Sally was more inclined to the view that women and men were all too human, equally capable of Nobel Prizes and bonehead moves on a planet ruled less by goddesses than by chance and choice.
But Nina was also the kind of feminist who wrote big checks. Sally was the kind who cashed them. When Nina's first substantial donation to the Dunwoodie Center had arrived, Sally had called Nina to say thanks and invite her to dinner at the Yippie I O Café, the only place in Laramie one dared take a vegetarian to dine. They'd since had several cordial dinners together, and, happily, more checks had followed. "Nina has been a very generous contributor to the Dunwoodie Center," Sally said carefully ...Bye, Bye, Love. 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
Something about the main character and the writing left a bad taste in my mouth. I've lived in Wyoming and found the potrayal of all the characters and setting way too heavily stereotyped and shallow. The main character especially just didn't ring true to me, and I found her too good to be true, to the point of being irritating. The plot didn't hold my interest enough to keep me reading. If you don't know this part of the world, you might be able to overlook this and find the story mildly interesting, but my advice is too skip it. JB
I'm officially ignoring your attacks. Good day.+Geckostar
Popular pop star Nina Cruz moved from California to Wyoming where she intends to set up the Wild West Organization to support activities from animal rights to taking care of mother Earth. She intends to hold a concert to raise funds for the proposal and she persuades country superstar store Jones to perform along with many other performers who are household names. College Professor Sally Adler is thrilled when her idol Jones asks her to attend the opening act............................... One day when Nina hears gunshots in her woods even though there are signs stating no hunting, she runs into the forest hoping to catch the hunter. When Nina fails to come back people look for her and find her corpse with a bullet in it. Sally thinks it would be a nice testimonial if she writes a book about Nina¿s extraordinary life. On Halloween Eve, someone leave an envelope of white powder on Sally doorstep and though it isn¿t anthrax a big scare occurs. A second murder happens when one of the members of Sally¿s band is killed. It becomes obvious someone wants to stop Sally from gathering information about Nina but that doesn¿t stop Sally from looking for a killer........................ Readers get a taste of the individuals who make their position clear on social and political issues in a state where conformity is discouraged. Talented storyteller Virginia Swift provides readers into a compelling tale of love betrayed and the dark side of fame. The protagonist is an independent, charming and delightful person who tries to do what is right even when it places her in danger. BYE, BYE, LOVE is an electrifying and offbeat amateur sleuth tale........................ Harriet Klausner