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THE HANGING
by Wendy Hornsby
Perseverance Press, September 2012
256 pages
$15.95
ISBN: 1564745260


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When TV producer Maggie MacGowan's documentary series is cancelled, she is only too happy to accept her high school/college roommate's help in landing a temporary position teaching film at Anacapa Community College in southern California.

On one of her first days, a young man breaks into her class and announces, "I'm going to kill the bastard." The young man in question is Sly (real name Randy Miller), who was rescued (literally) from the gutter by Maggie and her late husband Mike Flint, when Sly was just nine. He is now an upstanding student at Anacapa and has just won a competition, with the prize being that his sculpture will forever be displayed in the foyer of the administration building of the college. However, the new president, Park Holloway, who has arrived at Anacapa after twenty years in Congress and with no academic credentials, has decided that the sculpture will be displayed for only one year, to be replaced by work done by a professional.

When Maggie comes to the administration building to check on the lighting for a documentary she's preparing on Sly's work, she finds Holloway's body hanging, an apparent suicide. But the apparent suicide turns out to be murder.

Since she found the body and because Sly made threats against Holloway, both Maggie and Sly are under suspicion. So Maggie decides to investigate the crime to clear their names. In her investigation, she finds out that not only was Holloway not a nice man, he was both not a nice man and also a crook, dealing in international art theft and shady arms deals with very nasty dictators. (I'm not entirely sure how all this worked out. Sister Margaret Mary said I would never make it in math.)

Hornsby has a real gift for creating vivid secondary characters. A real scene stealer is Maggie's Uncle Max, a lawyer so wealthy that he doesn't have to worry about fees from indigent clients such as Sly. Another delight is Kate, Maggie's former roommate from Berkeley. There is a delicious scene in which Maggie and Kate come upon a group of rather disorganized protestors on the way to Sacramento. Kate grabs the megaphone -- and channeling the old days at Berkeley -- rouses the crowd into frenzy as they march to protest cuts in the class size and the raising of fees at the college.

Needless to say, Maggie leaves the college a different place from the one at which she arrived.

Mary Elizabeth Devine taught English Literature for 35 years, is co-author of five books about customs and manners around the world and lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Reviewed by Mary Elizabeth Devine, August 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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