Reviews for Scratchgravel Road

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #2
Mother Nature can be nearly as dangerous as Mexican drug cartels in the small border town of Artemis, Texas. Police Chief Josie Gray must contend with the heatstroke potential of the desert sun as well as flooding and mudslides caused by torrential rains as she hunts for the murderer of a man found with horrible open sores on his arms. The condition of the body raises questions for the coroner and the three-member Artemis police department, particularly when the victim is identified as working for a company cleaning up the nearby former nuclear weapons plant. Meanwhile, Josie risks her life by crossing the border illegally to retrieve the rebellious teenage daughter of one of her officers. This sequel to Fields' award-winning debut, The Territory (2011), an adrenaline-fueled account of warring drug cartels, is lower in energy than its predecessor, but it's still a solid crime novel, noteworthy for the delineation of the west Texas desert country and the well-drawn cast of characters; Josie Gray is a protagonist worth following. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 February #1
Welcome to West Texas, where a nuclear plant is being dismantled, a young lady takes a walk in the desert in 104-degree heat, and a corpse is dumped along the route usually favored by drug mules and coyotes. Artemis Police Chief Josie Gray has her hands full. Rain-fed floods menace the Feed Plant, the abandoned nuclear waste facility Beacon Pathways is cleaning up. Cassidy Harper nearly succumbs to heat stroke but won't admit why she was reconnoitering the area near the Hollow. And Officer Marta Cruz is having trouble controlling her daughter Teresa, who bails out her meth-addicted boyfriend. Unfortunately, matters are about to get worse. A body is found with no identification but wearing protective boots issued to employees cleaning up the nuclear site. Putrid lesions run up his arms, and an autopsy reveals that his gastrointestinal tract has been eaten away. Diego Paiva, plant supervisor, insists that his safety measures are top-notch, but could there have been a lapse in security for those men working on the vitrification project in Unit Seven? The dead man's wallet winds up in Cassidy's car, his last wages turn up in her boyfriend's secret bank account, and the co-worker who drove him to the job every day develops similar burn marks on his wrist. But the questions of who killed the unlucky Juan Santiago and why will have to wait while Chief Gray illegally crosses into Mexico to retrieve a rebellious teen and returns to deal with the torrential flooding that threatens to demolish the Feed Plant, spewing toxic waste everywhere. As in Fields' Tony Hillerman Prize–winning debut (The Territory, 2011): carefully integrated red herrings, a tinge of romance and dead-on descriptions of West Texas weather--oppressive heat, weeklong downpours and earth-obliterating mudslides. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #4

Fields sounds a warning on industrial dangers and their wide-ranging effects on ordinary people in this engrossing follow-up to her Hillerman Prize-winning debut, The Territory (2011). When Artemis, Tex., police chief Josie Gray comes across unconscious store clerk Cassidy Harper in the desert, Josie also spots the decaying corpse of immigrant Juan Santiago lying nearby, his body bearing sores of unknown origin. Cassidy later claims to have stumbled on Juan while on a walk, though his wallet is found in her car. Josie suspects the involvement of Leo Monaco, Cassidy's deadbeat boyfriend, and Enrico Gomez, a local tough dating a colleague's daughter. Also coming under Josie's scrutiny are Juan's quiet, Spartan life and the activities of Juan's employer, Beacon Pathways, which is cleaning up a hazardous waste site in the area and may be conducting more nefarious operations. A tense climax with a flood, mudslide, explosives, and a possible murderer add to the suspense. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (Mar.)

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