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Darkness Bids the Dead Goodbye by Gary McKinney

Gavin Pruitt is the sheriff of fictional Willapa County in Washington State and a Deadhead from years back.  It’s the summer of 1995 (if you keep up with the Grateful Dead, this year is extremely significant) and the unsolved murder of Wilma, a well-liked member of the local police force, has the community bewildered.

As the case progresses, it turns out that Wilma had some serious dirt in her recent background.  It also turns out that laid back Willapa County has a rougher edge than its tranquil setting would suggest.

Gavin has plenty on his plate at this point, at work and in his personal life.  His current wife and daughter from a previous marriage are both pregnant, he’s at odds with other law enforcement heads and community bigwigs because of his easy-going demeanor and status as ex-hippie, and to make things more interesting, a freewheeling ex-girlfriend is back in town, wanting a copy of a file from a computer that belonged to Wilma. 

In Darkness Bids the Dead Goodbye, the emerging world of computers and other technology looms over Gavin’s underfunded department as they try to crack this case of few leads.  The befuddlement of Gavin dealing with floppy disks and car phones adds a funny element and is a quick reminder to the reader that yes, it is the mid 1990s here in his Willapa County.  To the delight of Deadheads all, the book begins with a Dead concert (well, right after the murder) and references to their music crop up all through the storyline.  

There’s just enough of a sinister hint to the book to keep the pages turning amidst the imagined patchouli. 

(William Hicks, Information Services)


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