(Reviewed by Melanie Hamilton)
Author Larry D. Sweazy conjures up party-line, rocket-finned cars and long, black pay telephones in See Also, Murder, his version of 1967 North Dakota.
When Hilo Jenkins delivers the news of Lida and Erik Knudsen’s murder, indexer Marjorie had no idea what would come next. She had all she could handle with a quadriplegic husband and a North Dakota farm. The USDA had helped her take advantage of her attention to detail by providing her with the home course, only recently discontinued. Now, Hilo Jenkins was asking her to put those well-practiced skills to use. Not to solve a murder, but to decode the mystery of a coin found in Erik Knudsen’s hand.
As Sweazy takes us into Marjorie’s world, we discover corners of our own past that we may never have known. I’m tempted to call this book Little House meets Mad Men, what you get when you stick the artifacts of mid-century into the endless landscape of the prairie. However, Sweazy brings us the timelessness of landscape with the kind of strength that preserves the past. Living all my life in major cities, I re-read passages of Marjorie’s reveries, describing her love of the landscape.
Sweazy gives us a mystery that is not just the murder kind, but that of the prairie, barely settled despite the efforts of combines. The farm and being the wife of a farmer may be where Marjorie’s heart lies, but her intellect craves order and direction. It’s this intellectual craving that Sheriff Jenkins hopes will help solve his mystery. Through Marjorie, we experience the pleasure of investigation and discovery. We also discover that there is often a heart and mind behind all those long, detailed lists of words and numbers at the backs of books.