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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
Alone in the Wind by Judy Bruce is a compelling tale of treachery and deceit set in a small town in western Nebraska. Megan Docket Culhane is a Glock-toting, opinionated newlywed who also happens to be the senior partner in the Docket Law Firm, the firm founded by her late father. If ever there was any doubt that nepotism played a part in Megan’s swift rise through the very small ranks of the firm, Megan herself confirms it, but readers quickly see that there’s nothing frivolous about Bruce’s main protagonist. She pulls her own weight and expects others to do the same, and has a heart as big as the state of Nebraska, especially when it comes to those in need and those for whom she cares. Megan’s instincts are rarely wrong and when she catches a man on her property who identifies himself as Reginald John Martin, the Third (otherwise known as “RT”), a DEA agent out of Las Vegas, her 'spidey' senses immediately begin to tingle. RT tells her that he’s been sent to investigate the meth activity in the area while under the guise of a photojournalist researching the Nebraska panhandle.
The DEA agent’s arrival precipitates a flurry of disturbing incidents in and around town, including a traffic accident in which the owner of a construction company attempts to stage the accident scene by pulling his dead passenger into the driver’s seat to make it look like the other man had been driving. Megan immediately has her suspicions regarding the accident, but soon is too busy dealing with other issues, like the crisis in her young marriage, in order to fully realize that all isn’t as it seems.
Alone in the Wind is well-written and well-crafted, with the author’s descriptions of scenery and place so vivid that it’s easy for readers to close their eyes for a moment and see the unforgiving, raw landscape of Megan’s Nebraska. While the story is set in a town small enough that everyone appears to know everyone’s business, this makes the story all that more engaging and gives it a colorful local flavor. Bruce’s treatment of the character of Davey was especially well done as the author chose not to resort to stereotypical clichés when presenting a pivotal character with a disability.
Bruce’s main protagonist, Megan Culhane, is clearly a big fish in a small pond and it’s her ballsy, take-charge attitude that makes the story such a compelling read. At first, I found Megan’s instinctive action to reach for her ever-present Glock, and her seeming willingness to use it, to be quite disconcerting – especially since she’s a small town attorney who doesn’t handle criminal cases. However, after Megan kills two men (who, quite frankly, got what they deserved), she goes into a state of shock, later questioning whether she could have handled the outcome any differently. This shows the reader another side of Megan; the more vulnerable side which again, was nicely handled by the author. Like the Nebraska landscape in which the story is set, Alone in the Wind is vivid and compelling and an engaging read to the end.