Bibliophile reviews She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb

No. in series: 3
Year of publication: 1994
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: North Carolina, USA, contemporary
Some themes: Second sight, madness, family ties, ghosts, legend

Story: Police dispatcher Martha Ayers wants to become a policewoman. After some hesitation, Sheriff Arrowood takes her on, saying if she passes her probationary period he will send her for training and make her a full member of the small police force in Dark Hollow. Her lover, police officer Joe LeDonne, isn't too pleased and finds an outlet for his feelings that could break up the relationship. Meanwhile, an escaped convict is making his way towards the town and his ex-wife and daughter. He suffers from a mental disorder that makes him think he is still back in the sixties and it's only a few days since he last saw them. At the same time a student of folklore is trying to retrace the trail along which a young woman captured by Indians 200 years before escaped, and psychic Nora Bonesteel awaits the girl's ghost, which she has seen many times at that time of year. Finally, a young woman is having marital problems that Martha tries to help her with. All these stories cross and uncross and finally blend together as Martha, determined to prove herself by capturing the escaped convict, comes to realise that policing is both rewarding and very, very hard.

Review: While there is a more genuine mystery going on in this book than in the previous one in the series, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, this is still more than a mystery. It is written with the same skill as the previous book, and the characters are well-drawn and realistic. As in real life, not everything ends well, but some of the endings are inevitable, while others are not.

Rating: Another great installation in the superb Ballad series. Highly recommended. 4 stars.

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