Call me stupid, but I did not connect the dots between the story and the title until a few days after reading A Dead Red Heart. And that was a sobering thought! But let us not jump ahead. Lalla Bains, that ex model turned crop duster has her share of scares in this action packed novel from R P Dahlke.
Lalla Bains lives with her dad in Modesto, California and manages their crop dusting business. A new school is coming up in the lot next to theirs threatening their business. Her boy friend, Sheriff Caleb Stone wants her to commit. Diner owner and friend Roxanne is miffed because Lalla nudged her child into leaving for New York. And to complicate things further, a homeless guy is stalking Lalla leaving love notes for her.
Disaster strikes when the homeless guy Billy is shot dead and dies in Lalla’s arms leaving a cryptic message. The local Asian restaurant owner sees a shadow but neither he nor Lalla can identify the culprit. There is a new police woman in town, and she is ravishing. Lalla is in the midst of it all. She has death threats, and Del Potts, local journalist is insinuating that she caused Billy’s death.
Caleb is holding things from Lalla and also sharing her insights with Detective Rodney. Kim Grace, the restaurant owner’s daughter has something to hide but she won’t say a word. The victim’s mother comes at Lalla with a shotgun, and his aunt is missing. Bizarre is just too mild a word to describe what is going on in Modesto.
Billy wayne was a decorated veteran, but he was sick with PTSD. And he was also an alcoholic. As Lalla tries to decode the past, she meets Arny, a precocious kid who worships her and also provides a hot ride when she needs it. Noah Bains is in love, and struggling with it.
A Dead Red Heart is lots of action, intrigue and suspense. There are hijinks here too, and Lalla is a strong character. I wasn’t too pleased with the plot when the mystery was revealed but that is just personal preference.
This book is a page turner and must read for all mystery fans.