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13 1/2    by Nevada Barr order for
13 1/2
by Nevada Barr
Order:  USA  Can
Vanguard, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

In 1968, thirteen-year-old Richard Raines and his eleven-year-old brother Dylan live through a night of terror in their Minnesota home. Their mother, father and baby sister are murdered by an axe wheeling maniac. Richard survives with a dangerous gash on his leg. Dylan is left unconscious from a blow to his head.

When Dylan is tried for the murder of his family, Richard stands up for him, but is unable to say Dylan is innocent. Richard is the only family Dylan has left and he is grateful for his support. Dylan is sent to a juvenile facility and will later go to prison. With Richard's help, Dylan is released when he turns eighteen. The brothers move to New Orleans to make new lives where no one knows about their past.

Polly Farmer grows up in a Mississippi trailer park with an alcoholic mother and a series of stepfathers. Abused as a child, at fifteen, Polly runs away to New Orleans. She puts herself through school and is now Polly Deschamps, a respected college literature professor. She meets the Raines brothers who now call themselves Danny and Marshall Marchand. She and Marshall fall in love.

As the plot twists and turns, readers can't be sure which brother is a killer. And years later in New Orleans, which brother is Richard and which is Dylan? Did Polly fall in love with a murderer?

With this departure from her award-winning mystery series, novelist Nevada Barr is sure to make new fans. This appears to be a standalone mystery, but as an Anna Pigeon fan, I would love to see Polly Deschamps return in her own series.

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