She's short, round, and pushing forty, but Julia Kalas is a
damned good criminal. For 17 years she renovated historic
California buildings as a laundry front for her husband's illegal
arms business. Then the Aryan Brotherhood made her a widow, and
witness protection shipped her off to the tiny town of Azula,
Texas. Also known as the Middle of Nowhere.
The Lone Star sticks are lousy with vintage architecture begging to
be rehabbed. Julia figures she'll pick up where she left off, but
she's got a federal watchdog now: police chief Teresa Hallstedt,
who is none too happy to have another felon in her jurisdiction.
Teresa wants Julia where she can keep an eye on her, which turns
out to be behind the bar at the local watering hole. The bar's
owner, Hector Guerra, catches Julia's eye, so she takes the job.
But before she can get to know him as well as she'd like, they find
a dead body on the bar's roof.
The county sheriff begins trying to pin the murder on Hector for
reasons that Julia discovers are both personal and nefarious.
Unfortunately, the evidence cooperates, but Julia's finely-honed
bullshit detector tells her Hector isn't a killer. She risks
reconnecting with the outlaw underground to prove it, and learns
the hard way that she's not nearly as tough--or as right--as she
thinks she is.
"Nine Days," Koenig's debut, is atmospheric, gutsy and fun, and
Julia Kalas is an intriguing new heroine in crime fiction.
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