Benni Harper and best friend Elvia Aragon journey to Sugartree, AR so Benni can visit with her family and Elvia, who is engaged to Bennis cousin Emory, can become acquainted with the family as well.

There is big news in Sugartree. The two Baptist Churches, one African-American, one Caucasian, are hoping to join forces and become one, and Bennis old friend Amen Tolliver, an African American, is running for mayor against the incumbent. Sugartree is trying to be part of the new south.

Unfortunately, much of the old south remains. Not only are church members squabbling about the proposed merger but Amens candidacy doesnt sit right with many of the locals. In fact, Toby Hunter, son of the mayor, is the leader of a white supremacist group that is nothing but trouble.

When Toby is killed, suspicion falls on Amens nephew, Quinton. With the police squarely in the pocket of the incumbent, it looks as if Quinton does not stand a chance. However, Benni Harper and husband, Sheriff Gabe Ortiz, will go to the limit to ensure that justice is done.

This is an excellent entry in Fowlers popular Quilt series. The theme of racial tolerance makes ARKANSAS TRAVELER a compelling read. Ms. Fowler does a bravura job of examining modern prejudices while spinning a fine mystery. (Apr., 304 pp., $21.95)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg