A Dead Red Heart – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Outside my bedroom window cicadas sawed a sleepy rhythm and a breeze picked musically at the dry leaves on the Chinaberry tree and then – nothing. I couldn’t sleep. I turned over again, slamming down the image of a dying man clutching scissors sticking out of his chest. Never mind that I couldn’t remember his last words. Terrible as it was to think that someone would murder Billy Wayne Dobson, it seemed obvious to me that the killer was also clever enough to know how and where to apply the right pressure. I’d felt rather than seen someone at the end of the alley, but the killer didn’t know that, did he? I was seen, identified and marked as a witness. It was very clever of him. Really it was. I might later actually remember something and think to speak of it, maybe tell Caleb or the police that there might have been someone at the end of the alley. Now, however, any whiff of a memory was going to be sealed in a tomb of silence – silent as the grave, that will be me. I’d keep my head down, study map coordinates, calculate chemical formulas for pest control, kick airplane tires, and check pilot flight logs, pay Av Gas bills, anything that would keep me away from the potential of a murder investigation that might endanger what was most precious to me – my family.’
Eula Mae Baines, better known as Lalla, is a crop duster and, along with her retired father, owner of Bains Aero Ag. Billy Wayne Dobson has a powerful crush on Lalla and her boyfriend Sheriff Caleb Stone has warned him against stalking and harassing her. So when Billy Wayne decided to decorate Lalla’s bright red caddie with poetry written on paper snowflakes, she decided to try talking to him herself instead of reporting it to Caleb. Billy Wayne was a marine war vet and between the alcohol and drugs, his mind didn’t work quite as well as it should, eventually making him a homeless street person and Lalla knew exactly where to find him. In the alley near Mr. Kim’s Chinese restaurant in the abandoned section of downtown Modesto, California. But she didn’t expect to find him with a pair of scissors sticking out of his chest. She also didn’t expect who she supposed to be the killer to put a message on her father’s door that said ‘DOA.’ Assuming this meant Dead on Arrival, she decided to leave it alone and let the police handle everything.
Didn’t work that way. Lalla is brought into this whole murder mess by not only Billy Wayne and his last words to her but also by Mr. Kim who had befriended Billy Wayne. He felt Lalla would be the perfect person to find the killer. But as clues start popping up, Lalla finds that the killer just might be a policeman. Even Calab?
Author R P Dahlke has combined suspenseful murder and even humor in the creation of A Dead Red Heart. I found myself changing my opinion about each characters at least once as I turned the pages. And I have to admit, I didn’t come up with the real murder until the end. This author really kept me guessing and changing my mind.
Dead Bear Publishing
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