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Matt Lindstrom's wife, Gwen, disappeared without a trace in 1988. He was suspected of her murder at the time, but without a body to prove her death, Matt wasn't charged with a crime. Shunned by his community, he eventually lands in British Columbia.

Fourteen years later, Matt receives an anonymous phone call from a man who says his wife is living as Ardis Coleman in northern California. Curiosity gets the better of Matt and he heads to Soledad County in search of his wife and answers.

Gwen/Ardis is a journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the murders of a gay couple in the local town of Cyanide Wells. She's now in seclusion, writing a book about the crime and living with the town's newspaper editor.

Matt decides to stay in town and plan a confrontation with his wife. He gets a job under an assumed name at the local paper. Ardis vanishes before Matt can face her. The story his wife covered is rooted deep in local history. Could it be the reason behind her disappearance? Matt Lindstrom hopes to find vindication in Cyanide Wells.

Fictitious Soledad County is a fine setting for this Marcia Muller novel. Many folks don't realize that there's a day's drive worth of California above San Francisco. Muller exposes these readers to the quaint, significant history of the state's old mining towns.

Gwen/Ardis turns out to be crazier than first realized. Matt ends up working with his wife's partner Carly. The pair has Ardis and her disappearances in common.

Cyanide Wells doesn't have many surprises, though it makes an entertaining read. Bravo to Muller for plugging Librarians Index to the Internet (lii.org) in one of the novel's scenes. Any author who knows the value of such a superb reference tool is all right in my book.

Cyanide Wells
By Marcia Muller
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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