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Death on the River Walk    by Carolyn Hart order for
Death on the River Walk
by Carolyn Hart
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Carolyn Hart is a prolific writer who keeps two intriguing series going. Her Henrie O books are favorites of mine. The protagonist seems to trip over dead bodies and / or murderers no matter where she goes. In this fifth book in the series, Henrie drives to San Antonio in response to a phone call from a very close friend. The friend's granddaughter has disappeared and Henrie promises to locate her. While doing so, she explores San Antonio's famous River Walk. I lived in San Antonio for a year (back in the middle ages, it seems) and have never really thought about returning. This mystery has moved the city high on my priority list for another visit.

The book is worth reading for Hart's descriptions of the River Walk alone. But Henrie O is fun and adds immeasurably to the reading pleasure, as we experience her deductive reasoning and insight into the criminal mind. Hart's portrayal of the large Latino family involved in the story keeps the reader guessing about the guilty party. I especially liked the author's handling of a mentally handicapped man who is important to the plot. She treats his character with simplicity, tenderness and a seeming perceptiveness into the challenged mind.

'He clapped his hands once. Then he looked at the window, moved carefully to a spot bathed in sunlight and held up both hands. He moved his hands in swift gestures and shadows moved on the window. I glimpsed flowers, then a darting bird, a bird that bobbed against the glass, a happy, saucy bird. Almost a silly bird.' Although the man can't speak, she manages to communicate with him at his level. Hart mentions the loss of Henrie's son with sensitivity, as though she has been there.

Death on the River Walk is a good guide to the famous walk in addition to being a good read on its own merits. It's a fun summer story that may well tempt you to seek out more novels by this author.

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