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By C. O. Lamp

Galde Press, 1999 (pbk. 243 pp.) $14.95

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Alex Barca, a con artist with a penchant for radio stations and embezzlement, breezes into the small town of Clarinda, Iowa, birthplace of Glenn Miller, hoping to make another easy score. Cordelia Cooper, the "crippled widow lady" who owns the defunct station the villain has his eye on, is not the easy mark he takes her for.

There is no clear plot to this book, no particular crime that must be solved, no definite protagonist. The closest to that is young, beautiful, successful Erin Ames, who vowed as a poverty-stricken teenager that she'd never go without shoes again. One of the meandering subplots concerns the brief fling she had with a dashing Air Force major who seemingly left her at the altar. Presumably this man was her one true love, and all who came after him failed to measure up.

Erin never met Cordelia until she bought into the station - amazing, considering the size of the town - but Cordelia knows her very well, and shares a secret about Erin's paternity with the girl's whiny mother.

The "return of Glenn Miller" of the title refers to an actor who crashes the radio station's fund raiser, takes the baton from the orchestra leader's hand, makes rude comments about the town and its inhabitants, then walks out. Later he tries to make off with the evening's proceeds, but the wily Cordelia anticipated such a plan and foils the robbery.

This book is full of one-dimensional characters, some of whom switch identities for no discernable reason or behave in strange ways which seem to have little to do with the main story line. Potentially interesting sidelines like the spate of Glenn Miller sightings in the 1970's are not developed. It was a valiant effort, but as a mystery it leaves a lot to be desired.

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