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As with the first two books there were places in this book where I just wanted to shake Benni and tell her to stay out of the police investigation. I know Gabe felt completely justified when he asked Benni if she ever wondered if their marriage had been a mistake. She seems to go against everything he believes in at every turn of her life, and these are his friends involved this time and that makes this situation all the more touchy for him.
Several times during these last two chapters I went back and reread a scene though because the love between Gabe and Benni is so realistic. When he bursts thru the front door of his Mom's home the night Benni was hit by that truck I was about to swoon myself.
When Benni got on that stallion out at the horse farm I KNEW she was going to get thrown and I felt like at that point that Belinda was probably the murderer. And before Belinda came thru the door with the gun in the final scene with Dewey I was beginning to think that they were in the murder together or at the very least that Belinda knew who had murdered Tyler and was trying to protect Dewey.
I was pleased with the last few chapters when Benni and Gabe began to work together. I think it would be hard to read thru many more books with her fighting his advice all the way.
I liked the ending to the mystery and was pleased of course that Gabe wasn't hurt too bad from that gunshot. I did find it a bit unrealistic though that Dewey was the one that ran Benni down on the side of the road the night of the rodeo. Wasn't he supposed to be there supporting his son the entire night? And wouldn't he have been missed at the rodeo?
Location: New England
Connie, I have to agree that a few times I felt reality was stretched a bit much in some of these books. But then I remember that no one person would ever find this many bodies in real life and that I just have to keep in mind they are very much fiction.
I do think that the characterization (and dialogue) is the best part of these books.
Benni is a very complex character. Her relationship with Gabe has to always be seen in light of her past (and his) ... with Jack and her family and her upbringing. Often I feel that Benni's drive to meddle where she should not is in response to the fact that she feels Gabe does not take her seriously enough or see her as "smart enough" to share the more complex details of his life. She is trying to prove worthy.
Remember that she told us in one of the earlier books that her marriage to Jack was a "partnership in every way"? They were very much "equals" in terms of education and work. Remember, also, that Wade lets us know repeatedly that he thinks the money on Jack's (and therefore her) education was wasted. His wife does not continue to use the computerized system which Benni put in place for the Harper Ranch. Benni's degree is in history ... not particularly useful to ranch life ... and it was probably seen as being self-indulgent. But Jack and Benni worked together on the ranch and on the books. Benni does not have a similar opportunity to "share" Gabe's work as police chief ... so she meddles trying to prove she can be considered and consulted.
Also, Gabe is in part to blame because of how he shuts Benni out of his past ... not just his police work ... but the details of his life before they met , including his experiences in the military. If he were more communicative in this regard, would she feel as much need to meddle? He is also working on an advanced degree in philosophy and reads obtuse volumes on the nature of man. Benni may feel he does not consider that her own education makes her "equal" intellectually.
How much of Benni's motivation stems from her own need to stand on her own and be considered a worthy adult? Consider her realtionships with her family. Dove, though I love her dearly, is constantly telling Benni how to live her life in detail. Benni lost her mother as a young child. Benni's father is a good man, but quite tactiturn. His nickname for her is "Squirt."
There is a small but significant scene in the first book where Benni comments that because she is short she thinks people feel that the top of her head is common ground ... open for petting, tugging her braid (later ruffling her curls), pulling down her hat brim, ect. This is the way people in our culture often show affection for children. But we more commonly touch arms or shoulders of other adults.
Benni's move to town, making her own home, getting her job at the museum where she makes some use of her history degree, even marrying again ... are all attempts to establish herself as an independent, respected, equal adult.
I think some of her dabbling in detective work might be, also.
Just my thoughts ... Pat
Pat your insights to Benni's character are amazing. I do agree that Benni tries in many ways throughout the first three books to establish herself as an independent adult. But until I read your post I did not consider that this is her motivation for ignoring Gabe's warnings to stay out of police business. For a woman of her age and her past this seems very natural for her to try to put herself into a position to establish her maturity and knowledge by "Helping" Gabe with the investigations. Very insightful Pat!
I think in a very small way Dove is also trying to break out of the mold she has been in all her life of taking care of everyone when she goes off with that traveling preacher. Perhaps she can feel the pull from Benni establishing her own life and has a feeling of not being needed quite so much as the Matriarch of the family. So she does something completely out of her character by going off with a man that she barely knows while traveling across the country. Benni's new life is nothing if not more exciting and daring and maybe Dove is a bit jealous of that somewhere deep inside and wants to stretch her own wings just a bit.
Location: New England
Connie, and all those who love the character of Dove ... in regards to the development of Dove's character ... you are going to love the "Dove in the Window" book! Pat
Location: Far Northern California
Well I am finally caught up! I've read all three now, and guess what? The fourth wasn't at the library the other day I'll have to look and see if they even have it, then have them save it for me.
I am not nearly as articulate or insightful as Pat, I think you've hit the nail on the head Pat. Not to mention that Benni is just a curious person by nature. I think Gabe needs to relax just a little bit and realize that part of her appeal is her curiosity.
As for Dove, I really wanted to shaker her hard in the second book. A farm/ranch Woman would never, NEVER not serve beef for dinner and would NEVER, EVER throw stew down the drain!!! Geesh...she would of given it to the chickens....
That's a good point Connie, I would think Dewey would of been at the rodeo all night and wouldn't of had the chance to run her down.
I knew Belinda was up to know good when she got Benni to get on the horse, that was just downright mean of her.
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