Title: The Prairie Grass Murders
Author: Patricia Stoltey
Publisher: Worldwide Library, 2010
Mass Market Paperback, 252 pages
Genre: Cozy, Amateur Sleuth, #1 Sylvia and Willie mystery
Source: Purchased at Bookman's.
First Line: Willie narrowed his eyes against the sun's glare as he watched the huge bird circle overhead.
Willie Grisseljon is taking a well-deserved vacation back in central Illinois where he grew up. Hiking through the backroads and fields that he knew as a child, he finds a dead body beneath a pile of debris. As he's walking to town to tell the police of his discovery, he's stopped by a policeman. The policeman's reaction is to take Willie's identification and haul him off to the county hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
When he can get to a phone, he calls his sister, Sylvia Thorn, who just happens to be a circuit court judge in Palm Beach County, Florida. Sylvia clears her docket and heads to central Illinois. When she and her brother go to find the body, the pile of debris is much higher, and the body can't be seen. The two go to town to tell the sheriff-- and Sylvia finds out he's her old high school flame. It also isn't long before she knows that something's not right in Sangamon City, Illinois, and that trouble is going to follow them both all the way back to Florida.
I really liked the two main characters. Sylvia is a level-headed woman in her fifties who doesn't panic. Her profession has taught her how to deal with all the various law enforcement agencies, and she uses her contacts to good effect. Her brother, Willie, is a Vietnam vet who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. This has given him a few quirks, but he deals with them. He's a highly intelligent man who has built and run a successful small business, and he does his bit to help those in need. Sylvia knows that it's always a good idea to follow Willie's intuition.
Although I thought the villains were rather easy to identify in this book, "who" didn't matter as much as "why", and I found the "why" very interesting. With two very strong main characters, I hope this series is in for a good, long run.