I have friends who live and breathe in the bright winter sun of the San Joaquin Valley and some who reside between the dark cool covers of books. After almost six years apart, I spent a recent Sunday with Sunny Frazier’s Astrology Mysteries series heroine Christy Bristol.
As we join the story, in this third volume, Christy’s BFF Lennie has moved to the foothill community of Burlap. Christy decides to take some much needed vacation time and visit her long time pal.
Lennie and her current boyfriend run the small town newspaper. They rush, with Christy in tow, to the scene of a murder hoping to get a story. Christy, a clerk for the sheriff’s department, gets drafted into working for the unit that has been formed to deal with the sudden crime wave in the mountains.
Deprived of a place to stay by an argument with Lennie, Christy is temporarily stashed in a ranger’s rustic cabin at the edge of the national forest. As Christy types reports the body count rises. The human denizens of Burlap are as strange to city girl Christy as the owl that keeps hooting her awake at night.
There is a fanatical preacher who says the sharp increase in the mortality rate is the result of the sins of the community. There is a mysterious informant that keeps calling and only wants to talk to Christy, saying a lawman killed Lester, her boyfriend. The ranger comes back to his cabin with a gun in his hand and then takes mysterious trips in the dead of night into the woods.
Christy wishes she had cast a horoscope before the trip. When she finally gets around to looking at hers there is bad news from her natal Saturn and Pluto. Worst of all there is no Diet Dr. Pepper to be found two thousand feet above the valley floor. No caffeine and a vicious killer on the loose - what is a girl to do? Read the book and find out!
The book is fun, fast and a very pleasant visit with Christy’s circle of friends and family. Sister Celeste (the nun) and frisky grandma appear as does the delicious Rodrigo, Christy’s DEA boyfriend. Former love and current thorn-in- the-side Detective Wolfe is back to make Christy’s life interesting. Shamus, the cat, has reached the teenaged fur baby stage and, as always, gets a smile from the feline fanciers among us. The book can be read as a stand alone. “Central” County (Fresno in real time) residents will run for the internet to find out how much of the story is fact and how much fiction. The most exotic elements of the story setting are real and the truth is out there…Enjoy!
Review by Terrell Byrd, Current President of San Joaquin Sisters in Crime