Review by Rox Burkey

J.J. Rusz created The Window Trail as A Big Bend Country Mystery. It is a well-written story that also illustrates the beauty of Texas desert. This story opens with a trek along the trails of Big B that can change in a moment when college students are retracing a book, they’d read of an apparent suicide by one of the local college students.

Professor Claire Harp is a likeable character as she is settling into to life at the remote university. She ends up finding more than anyone expected, including the local law, Deputy Clayton Shoot. Desert scenery and trails are described in vivid detail reminding one of how unforgiving it can be to those who forget to respect its wildness.

Claire’s return drive after a hike to the site of the suicide, results in she and one of the students she had shepherded to the area seeing something unbelievable. The disturbing appendage was being carried off by a desert resident revealed by the headlight of her car. The investigation that follows throws Claire and Clayton together to find the truth. For anyone who has been to this part of Texas the descriptions Rusz provides, allows the reader to feel like they are beside Claire.

“They had just rounded a hill, the land rocky and thick with mesquite and prickly pear-real ranch country. On the left, still at some distance and far above a steep pasture accessible by a dirt road, Claire saw what Clayton had called out, huge birds wheeling in effortless arcs across the sky-maybe a done or more at different altitudes paths crossing in purposeful dance centered upon something on the ground far below.

“A murder of crows,” she muttered.

“They’re vultures, ma’am. Turkey vultures.”

Rusz is a master at drawing readers to the blackmail, romance, mystery, murder, and small-town gossip presented in this story. It is worth the time to let it take you away on a page turning thriller. You won’t want to quit reading even when you learn its secrets. 

About the Author

J J RUSZ is the author of The Window Trail: A Big Bend Country Mystery (2018) and The South Rim Trail: A Big Bend Country Mystery 2 (2019), the first two books in a series. J J Rusz is the pen name for John J Ruszkiewicz, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, earned a BA from St. Vincent College in 1972 and a PhD in English from The Ohio State University in 1977. He is the author of a wide range of college textbooks, including Everything’s an ArgumentHow to Write Anything, and A Reader’s Guide to College Writing.

Rusz recently retired from the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught literature, rhetoric, and composition for 40 years. He currently spends most of his time in Alpine, Texas.


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