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In Focus

Something Wicked by David Housewright was probably the best book we have read so far in the Book Club.

It’s a murder mystery with humor and personality. It wasn’t as dark and depressing as some of the previous books we read.

This book began with a plea, from his wife’s friend, to investigate her grandmother’s death and that is quickly wrapped up in the beginning of the book. Then it becomes a fight among the grandmother’s children if they are going to keep their historic resort home and allow this granddaughter to continue run it. Then a murder happens. All of this takes place just after the height of the pandemic and the George Floyd incident.

I greatly enjoyed the characters and the main character, Rushmore McKenzie, the private investigator called in by the granddaughter. This took place in a fictional Minnesota town of Redding on historic lake front property. Other than hearing about the pandemic, I don’t have anything negative to say about this book. I later learned this is part of a series, and I aim to read the series. But you can still read this book on its own, like we did, and not have to read the whole series.

My favorite character in the book is Barb, the reporter, go figure. The way they described her and how she covers the issues in the book, is almost identical to what I do, as well as the relationship she has with city officials and law enforcement. And there was a page that greatly caught my attention:

“I thought small town newspapers were in trouble,” said McKenzie.

“As long as there are readers interested in what’s going on in their communities, I believe newspapers will be around...” said Barb.

“Still, advertising revenue must be down.”

“Redding is more fortunate than most towns in that we not only have the hospital” we also have several small manufacturing companies and other small businesses that support the community. ‘Course, when COVID first hit, most of our retail advertising was pulled, which really hurt our cash flow. Now that things are loosening up a bit, we’re getting some of that money back. Legal and public notices have helped, too; legal ads that must be placed by local government according to law.

“At the same time, COVID was one of the reasons we’re doing okay. COVID here was a vastly different story than in The Cities, than it is in Florida, California or Texas....and the high school—half of our news is comprised of school functions such as sports, band concerts or academic activities. You can’t get that from the Star Tribune or anywhere else,” said Barb.

“I would think that the dependence people place on social media to get their news is only going to get worse,” said McKenzie.

“A lot of information is almost instantly shared on apps like Facebook and Twitter and that has taken the thunder and lightning away from newspapers. So much of it is incorrect, though, or at least suspect. Newspapers have a great deal more credibility. People trust them; it’s where they go to learn the truth,” said Barb.

Thank you, Barb, for hitting the nail right on the head. Never have I seen such an accurate description of a rural newspaper, let alone in a fictional book. Thanks for that highlight of our struggle, Mr. Housewright. You have my respect.

This book was great, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a who done it with some humor.

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