So, what is a 'rawboned' mystery?
My copy of The Man Who Met the Train had a snippet from a review from the Chicago Sun-Times in which they said it was a 'rawboned' mystery. I was intrigued by that characterization and can now report to you what that means.
It means that this mystery is sparsely written - no extravagant detail and most conversations aren't even fully fleshed out. It's a quick and dirty read about some quick and dirty crimes set in two small towns in Depression-era South Dakota. In style and setting it reminded me of a western. The hero, Carl Wilcox, comes upon a wrecked car. Inside are four dead adults and one survivor - a little girl.
Wilcox is eventually hired on by local bigwigs to investigate the circumstances of the crime, seeing as how he has previous experience as a police officer. Wilcox starts to pull at the loose threads of this crime and starts to discover that some very prominent local names are being implicated in these murders and other crimes.
The most interesting aspect of the story is the budding personal life of Wilcox. One of the local ladies enjoys serious flirtation with him and the little girl he saved from the wreck who trusts no one but him. It is enjoyable to follow along with Wilcox's discomfort and awkwardness in dealing with this traumatized little girl. He has obviously been a loner for a while and suddenly he is looking at the prospect of a family and dealing with having to sing little kid sings in the car and telling stories before bed time.
This is a solid little read. Now I'll be on the lookout for other books labeled 'rawboned'.
I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Man Who Met the Train: A Carl Wilcox Mystery
Reviewed on July 21, 2005.