The Wheat Field by Steve Thayer

So, cutting back on the television really does promote reading. On Sunday I started and finished Steve Thayer’s book The Wheat Field. Mostly I read in the evening, after the kids had gone to bed and my husband had gone to work. Blissful silence!

The Wheat Field, as it turns out, is one of those lightweight page turners. I am particularly conscious of this because I’ve just finished reading Cook’s Instruments of Night, a book that has all the bells and whistles of literary fiction.

The Wheat Field is the tale of small-town Wisconsin, 1960. The naked bodies of married couple Mike and Maggie Butler are found in a crop circle and it’s up to Deputy Pennington to discover just what happened. Just what happened turns out to be a sordid tale of sex, politics and guns.

Deputy Pennington has  been in love with Maggie his whole life, so solving the mystery surrounding her death is personal to him. Leaving no stone unturned, however, turns out to be dangerous in Kickapoo Falls and Pennington often finds his own life in danger.

The book is straightforward in every way.

Labor Day came and went. The kids went back to school. The tourists went back home. The valley returned to what passed as normal. The September days stayed sunny and warm. But the nights cooled. And so did my investigation.

Thayer doesn’t make much of an attempt to examine the interior lives of his characters, not even our (anti)hero, Pennington. Still, it doesn’t matter. The book races along to its conclusion – a pleasant enough journey if you’ve got a few hours to kill.

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