|Glynn Marsh Alam: Cold Water Corpse|
Press (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0972507809
The third book in the Luanne Fogarty mystery series, Cold Water Corpse, features an even more memorable character than Luanne: the Palmetto River swamplands. Human characters hide emotions and motivations, but this swampland hides another world. Beneath the surface lurk underwater caves filled with assorted flora, fauna and dead bodies -- sometimes human.
Luanne, a native of Northern Florida's swamps, divides her time between duties as an adjunct professor of linguistics and as a skilled adjunct scuba diver with the local sheriff's department. When she and her 80-something Cajun neighbor, Pasquin, navigate the drought-lowered river, avoiding clumps of alien hydrilla grass that threatens the ecological balance as well as the boat's equilibrium, they spot a gator with its prey. Luanne studies the body and finally asks, "Pasquin, does a deer wear a bra?"
The dead woman joins
a line of victims that stretches across several years and miles. While
trying to connect the clues, the sheriff's department joins in the fun
at the local county fair. Luanne serves food in the sheriff's tent, survives
an attack, and keeps an eye on a traveling carnival troop complete with
rides, clowns, freaks and suspects. But the book ventures even further
afield, ultimately including a pillaged alligator farm, a runaway giant
snake, an unanswered question about lizards and a crisis at the college.
Alam creates characters with depth and foibles who quickly feel like old friends. Dialogue fits the speakers. Each book demonstrates the author's storytelling ability, her attention to detail and her familiarity with the geography. She stirs up suspense and sets the scene with her very first line: "Alligators eat just about anything that comes from live flesh -- birds, turtles, frogs, puppy dogs, humans….When the stomach growls, the gator prowls…The natural process here is the food chain."
Cold Water Corpse shows what happens when man disrupts that natural process. In this installment of Luanne's adventures, Alam threatens her river with drought and alien flora to make an environmentalist's statement. All well and good, but I miss the invincible river and those underwater caves that grudgingly give up the dead.
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