Pecos Valley Revival

Written by Alice Duncan
Review by B. J. Sedlock

Annabelle Blue, age nineteen, lives on a New Mexico ranch in 1923. She dreams of having a few adventures before settling down someday with cowboy beau Phil. The fall cattle drive arrives in town, followed by a rodeo, topped by a traveling revival show. But adventure comes sooner than Annabelle expects. The revival preacher’s sister makes overtures to Phil. Then one of the least liked cowboys in the rodeo is poisoned at a barbecue, followed by the murder of the town gossip. Will Annabelle lose Phil? Can she help discover the murderer?

It’s an ultra-crossover book, having elements of Western, romance, and mystery novels, and wouldn’t be out of place in the YA section. There are some amusing passages, along with an interesting setting and historical content. But it could use some editing. Annabelle’s narration is repetitious, at times relentlessly teenage-stream-of-consciousness: “After all, I might be wrong. Fat chance, men being the fickle fiends they were. Still, you never knew.” I usually enjoy first-person narration, but there were times when I wished Annabelle would shut up and get on with the story. The murderer’s identity is not a big surprise. There’s good stuff here, but it needs some work.