, a murder-mystery thriller by Gwen Florio, follows protagonist Lola Wicks, freshly returned from a journalistic mission covering the conflict in Afghanistan, who discovers that her close friend Mary Alice has been murdered in her cabin in the rural community of Magpie, Montana. The killer leaves behind a series of clues so personal to Mary Alice that only Lola is equipped to properly follow them. Lola finds herself stuck in Magpie with the local Sheriff, trying to sniff out the secrets that led to Mary Alice's death.
Lola Wicks, a foreign correspondent so accustomed to the dusty, dangerous life of covering the conflict in Afghanistan, is livid when her editor reassigns her to a suburban beat back in Baltimore, a neighborhood so mundane that Lola thinks of it as the territory of newspaper interns. Upon her return, Lola discovers that the newspaper is shutting down its international bureaus, meaning work in Kabul, and anywhere else beyond the U.S. Border, is no longer an option unless she can find employment somewhere else.
Enraged, and making plans to return to Afghanistan as soon as possible with or without the funding and support of her editorial staff, Lola decides to take a trip to see her good friend Mary Alice, who had also had a long career at the newspaper. Mary Alice had taken up an earlier buyout, using the money she earned to leave the city and the Eastern Seaboard and buy a cabin in rural Montana, where she started working for the local newspaper. Mary Alice agrees to meet Lola at the airport, though Lola makes it clear that she doesn't intend to stay stateside for long.
When she arrives at the airport, Mary Alice isn't there to greet her. Exhausted and annoyed, Lola rents a car rather than wait for her friend to show up or get in touch. When Lola arrives at the cabin, however, she discovers a gruesome scene – Mary Alice has been shot and left for dead, and Lola is the first person to find her.
Though distraught about her friend's death, Lola is used to this kind of sudden violence from her work. She plans to turn around and leave town immediately after reporting Mary Alice's death, but the sheriff calls her in as a witness, and Lola has to stay. Lola decides that her best opportunity to get out of Magpie is to help with the investigation; she makes plans to solve the murder herself, making some friends and even more enemies along the way.
The longer she stays in Magpie, the more bizarre her circumstances get. Lola is uncomfortable in this remote region, where people rely on each other to survive. She is also unsettled by the obvious tension between the white folks in town and the people living in the nearby Blackfeet Nation. Lola finds herself allied with another local reporter, romantically involved with a wealthy rancher, and navigating a testy investigation of the state's first Native American candidate for governor, a man whom Mary Alice was writing on when she was murdered.
Lola finds herself loving her new friends in Montana, despite her best efforts – but just as she comes to love the place, she realizes that her own life is in danger, and she will have to solve the mystery or she will become the second victim in this convoluted case.Montana
is the first novel in the Lola Wicks series, followed by Dakota
, and Under the Shadows.
Gwen Florio is a journalist who has worked both within Native American Reservations in the American West and in Afghanistan, among other locales. Born in Delaware, she now lives in Missoula, Montana with her husband, after falling in love with the wide sky. She has won a number of awards for her journalism, which has covered topics as far-reaching as the Columbine shooting and the Miss Navajo Pageant. She has been nominated three times for a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, and once for a Pushcart Prize for short fiction. She has written five books in the Lola Wicks
series, and a standalone novel, Silent Hearts
. She has also contributed to two anthologies, The Night of the Flood
and Montana Noir