"Strike on Box" may have been billed as "participatory performance art" by Elizabeth Goodweather's neighbors, Kyra, Boz and Aidan, but nobody attending the exclusive gallery showing expected they'd be witnesses to an altercation that may have led to murder.

Before Elizabeth knows it, young Kyra is hiding out on her North Carolina herb and flower farm, Aidan has been arrested for Boz's murder and it looks like Elizabeth's nephew is becoming enamored of the fragile artist. As Elizabeth and her friend, former detective Phillip Hawkins, look into the death, she is also drafted to organize a quilt exhibit for the library and must learn more local lore for the presentation.

Lane captures the lilting dialogue and mystical beliefs of Appalachia as her story also slips into the cosmopolitan art world of nearby Asheville. This compelling story -- populated by avant-garde artists, twisted family relationships and blossoming romance -- is more than just a complex mystery, it's also a story within a story. Decades-old folklore unfolds and weaves through the fabric of the present day. This one-stop read tosses surprising thrills in a cool Southern voice. (Jul., 418 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Pat Cooper