Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Dead Red Oleander

A Dead Red Oleander, by R. P. Dahlke; is both funny, and serious, an altogether good read. In this book, Lalla Bains, an aero-ag pilot (crop duster) seems to find her way into more than a field of pesky bugs. At the opening of A Dead Red Oleander we find Lalla in a sizzling, hot, cotton field, laying underneath her Dad's old pickup, handcuffed to the frame. So, what's up with that? That's what a California State Trooper wants to know.

Backtracking reveals events happening fast and furious, starting with a newly hired pilot, with the unlikely name of Dewey Treat, dying without preamble at Lalla's prenuptial hot dog roast.  Did the wife kill him with a poisonous oleander stick? Why did Mad Dog, the other aero-ag pilot, bring a stranger to that party? And, what did the stranger know about the dead man?

Lalla takes it on herself to find out the secrets that surround the dead Dewey Treat; and the wife who isn't what she seems.  It leads her into a frantic fracas of car wrecks, attempted kidnapping, dead bodies, and explosions. Sharing her harrowing adventures is wedding guest, Cousin Pearlie, a crack pilot with a penchant for romance. Did I mention she carries a gun?  Add an eccentric Texas Granny, a grumpy Dad, his goat, Billy, and his girlfriend Shirley. Mix it up with a Federal agent, and don't forget the bridegroom, Caleb, who just happens to be the county sheriff.  He's not only interested in solving the tangle of who's killing whom, and why, he's struggling to keep Lalla alive long enough to be his bride.

It's safe to say, if you like Janet Evanovich, you'll love R.P. Dahlke.  It's the same breezy, quick action style, with unforgettable characters and a strong, female lead. Only I personally think Lalla Bains has a little more going for her than Stephanie Plum. Just my opinion.

For more about this author and a list of her other books visit -