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By Bill Pronzini

The writer of Blue Lonesome, a brand new York instances booklet overview outstanding booklet, has created one other lovely novel of suspense. Set in a small, remoted city in Northern California, A barren region of Strangers is a fast moving, memorable tale concerning the arrival of a stranger--and the homicide of a pretty, lonely girl.

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Faith, Los Angeles. Phony name if I ever heard one. What in hell could he want in a half-dead backwater like Pomo? Zenna Wilson HE SCARED ME half to death. And not just because he startled me, sneaking up as quiet as an Indian or a thief. My flesh went cold when I saw him looming there. He was a sight to give any decent soul the shudders even in broad daylight. I was in the hardware store talking to Ken Treynor. I'd just bought a package of coffee filters, about the only thing I ever buy in the hardware store, really, because Howard gave me a Braun two Christmases ago and Braun coffeemakers take a special filter and Safeway doesn't stock them even though I've asked the manager half a dozen times to put them in so I can pick up a package when I do my regular shopping.

I'm not small at six feet and two hundred pounds, but I felt dwarfed in this one's massive shadow. Rough-looking, too, with a hammered-down face and hard, bunched features. But there was nothing furtive or suspicious about him, nothing to put me on my guard. " "No? " "No-parking zone. " "Curb's not marked. " "The curb is marked, you just have to look closely to spot it this time of day. White paint and lettering are mostly worn off—long overdue for remarking. There was a sign, too, up until a couple of weeks ago when a drunk driver knocked it down; we're still waiting for a replacement.

But he didn't look handsome now. He looked mean, like he'd accused the Porsche guy of being. And a lot uglier, somehow. Funny, but all of a sudden I wasn't so sure I wanted him to marry me. I wasn't even sure I wanted to keep on being with him, whether or not I had his damn baby. Douglas Kent STORM'S EYES WERE all over the strange beast as soon as it lumbered into Gunderson's Lounge. When it settled its hairy bulk at the other end of the bar, she shifted slightly on her stool so she could keep watching it without turning her head.

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