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Manning Wolfe is an author and attorney residing in Austin, Texas. After many years of storytelling, Manning has written a legal thriller series involving an Austin-based Texas attorney. The first, Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs. Boots King, was the winner of the 2014 Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest. A graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, she specializes in business law. Visit her website at www.manningwolfe.com.
Houston: Iron Mountain Press
306 pgs., $16.95
Reviewed by Manning Wolfe
Elizabeth A. Garcia’s Border Ghosts begins with her heroine, Deputy Sheriff Margarita Ricos, recovering from a broken heart and career woes in Terlingua, Texas. Margarita’s birth father, Zeke Pacheco, a Texas Ranger from Dallas, entices her to spend a week with him solving the mystery of a young man who may be falsely imprisoned for the murder of his wife and two children. “My father had thrown me a lifeline,” Margarita muses, “and even with a broken heart and a head full of dark thoughts, I knew enough to grab it.”
Margarita leaves her beautiful desert land for Dallas, where she is confronted with lies and cover-ups by those who have been quick to accuse the imprisoned young man. Or, are they right about him? Found covered in blood, jealous of an affair his wife was having (and having struck her before, according to police reports), the man’s a likely suspect. Margarita is challenged to unravel the chain of events and put to rest his guilt or innocence once and for all.
The vast and haunting beauty of the Big Bend Country, its people, and its unique dangers circa 1966 are the backdrop for a haunting story comprising the second part of the novel. A young couple leaves the safety of their Chihuahua, Mexico, home and faces the dangers of crossing the Rio Grande River and the Texas desert for a chance at the American dream.
The two stories are interwoven like a leather bootlace, alternating the sweet story of young love and danger-filled mystery from the past involving the Border Ghosts with the modern-day quest to prove the imprisoned man either guilty or innocent. The juxtaposition of the border drama against the Dallas mystery elevates the texture of the novel and gives it depth. The way the two stands are reconciled is both charming and satisfying.
Garcia exposes the historical relationship between Mexican immigrants and U.S. citizens in an eye-opening way. She promotes truth and honesty in her dealings without becoming preachy. Love of the Big Bend area is paramount to Garcia and her heroine.
This fourth installment in the Deputy Ricos series does not disappoint. In the style of Tony Hillerman, Bill Crider, and Rex Stout, Garcia weaves an intertwined tale of two mysteries that keeps the reader guessing and rooting for the heroine, Margarita Ricos, until the last page.
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