This American Sylvia and Willie mystery is the first in the series, and I believe it is also the author´s debut.
Willie Grisseljon returns to his childhood environment in Illinois from sunny Florida, presumably ´to find out if the safe, comfortable places he remembered from his childhood still existed´, but instead he comes across a spiteful vulture which leads him to a black shoe.
“He reached out and gave it a sharp tug, but couldn´t pull it free. He let go, stepped back, and then stood very still. The shoe is most likely attached to a foot.”
As if this wasn´t enough, the local deputy thinks Willie is a confused vagrant and hands him over to a mental institution where he has to stay until his sister, judge Sylvia Thorn, can vouch for him.
Sylvia Thorn is a strong and independent woman of Norwegian descent, whereas her older brother Willie is a war-damaged poet. He may be an unlikely detective, but he is an interesting and unusual character who cares a lot about his sister in his own way. Besides, the well-written novel offers a strong sense of place and a fine sense of humour.
A small minus from me because the story is somewhat convoluted, and though I appreciated the fact that we never know whom to trust, it didn´t strike me as the most credible ending. Still I enjoyed the characters and the setting so much that I am determined to read the next volume to see what happens to Sylvia and Willie.
I bought the book myself.