Title: Left Hanging by Patricia McLinn
Caught Dead in Wyoming Book Two
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books/BelleBooks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A Rodeo Producer, Dead in the Bull Pen. Accident or Murder?
From the tip of the rodeo queen’s tiara, to “agricultural byproducts” ground into the arena dust, TV reporter Elizabeth, E.M., Danniher receives a murderous introduction to the world of rodeo.
Elizabeth, until recently a top-flight TV journalist on the national stage, has been making strides in getting her footing after a dizzying demotion to tiny—and entirely foreign to her—Sherman, Wyoming. But that equilibrium faces a major challenge.
The apparently accidental death—under the hooves of rodeo bulls— of a rodeo producer preparing for Sherman’s annual Fourth of July Rodeo catches the attention of Elizabeth and her KWMT-TV colleague Michael Paycik. Not only is it a major story about the region’s biggest event, but it’s being outrageously mishandled by the station’s egocentric anchor.
As Elizabeth and Michael start to dig, area rancher Thomas Burrell joins the investigation, providing background on the rodeo and suspects—and there are plenty because the victim had many enemies. But Tom has loyalties to some suspects as well as to the rodeo, so Elizabeth doubts his commitment to finding the truth no matter what. Not to mention that both Mike and Tom have indicated an interest in her . . . they might be okay with working together in a peculiar triangle, but the points of that triangle are starting to get under her skin.
Left Hanging, the second installment in Patricia McLinn’s Caught Dead in Wyoming series, is another fascinating mystery that is full of twists and turns.
When stock contractor Keith Landry’s trampeled body is discovered in the bull pen days before the annual Fourth of July Rodeo, local TV journalist Elizabeth Danniher and sportscaster Mike Paycik cannot resist taking a closer look at his untimely death. Was his death a tragic accident? Or something far more sinister? Aiding them in their investigation is local rancher and rodeo insider Tom Burrell but his close friendships with some of the possible suspects cast suspicion on the reliability of his information.
The rodeo setting is a fascinating backdrop for the unfolding mystery. Ms. McLinn does an excellent job explaining the various rodeo events and she provides a detailed behind the scenes description of the inner workings of rodeo production. The history of rodeo and its role in the Western lifestyle are beautifully depicted and the storyline dispels many of the common misconceptions about the sport.
Lead protagonist Elizabeth Danniher is still struggling to adapt to life in rural Wyoming and her demotion to the small television station in Sherman. While she has no regrets about her divorce, her professional confidence is shaken and she is now questioning the role her ex played in the success of her career. Elizabeth’s investigation into Landry’s death provides some interesting insight into the doubts that are plaguing her.
The plot of Left Hanging is a bit sluggish for the first half of the novel. The circumstances of Landry’s death are unclear and the investigation is slow moving. There are a lot of characters and it is difficult to keep all of them straight. But once the clues and various relationships begin to fall into place, the story picks up speed and gallops to a spectacular conclusion.
Droll humor, colorful characters and a Western setting prove to be an irresistible combination in Left Hanging. This latest installment of the Caught Dead in Wyoming series is sure to thrill old and new fans and leave them eagerly anticipating what Paticia McLinn has planned next for this intrepid trio of amateur sleuths.
Read my review of the other books in the series HERE.