In her gripping follow-up to the widely acclaimed Dust Bowl Mystery Death of a Rainmaker, Laurie Loewenstein brings 1930s Oklahoma evocatively to life.
*Winner of a Will Rogers Silver Medallion Award for Western Mystery
*A finalist for the 2023 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Best Historical
"For Temple Jennings, the small-town Oklahoma sheriff who returns in Laurie Loewenstein's engaging new Dust Bowl-era mystery, Funeral Train, day-to-day matters have become challenging . . . Reading Funeral Train feels like being catapulted back in time to experience the 1930s at an almost unbearably visceral level."
—New York Times Book Review
"Loewenstein handles the investigatory details well enough, but the book's richer rewards are its finely rendered portraits of small-town life under trying circumstances. She creates a vivid cast of gossips and cranks, loners and busy bodies. Some are lovable, some are not. All are connected to the secrets that lie just beneath the surface of the town's dusty streets."
—Washington Post, one of "Five New Thrillers to Kick Off Your Fall Reading"
Already suffering the privations of the 1930s Dust Bowl, an Oklahoma town is further devastated when a passenger train derails—flooding its hospital with the dead and maimed. Among the seriously wounded is Etha, wife of Sheriff Temple Jennings. Overwhelmed by worry for her, the sheriff must regain his footing to investigate the derailment, which rapidly develops into a case of sabotage.
The following night, a local recluse is murdered. Temple has a hunch that this death is connected to the train wreck. But as he dissects the victim’s life with help from the recuperating and resourceful Etha, he discovers a tangle of records that make a number of townsfolk suspects in the murder.
Temple’s investigations take place against the backdrop of the Great Depression—where bootlegging, petty extortion, courage, and bravado play out in equal measure.
"While the mystery pulls the reader along with steady interest, the book really shines with the picture it paints of small-town, Depression-era America. The past is brought to vivid, fascinating life with Loewenstein's skillful descriptions . . . You'll enjoy this tale of foul murder, marital faithfulness, and hard-won justice, set in a time and place drenched with authenticity."
—Historical Novels Society
"Set in 1935, 'smack in the crosshairs of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl,' Loewenstein's excellent sequel to 2018's Death of a Rainmaker continues the saga of life in the small town of Vermillion, Okla . . . Loewenstein gives a rich sense of the period and place, and dramatically shows how hard times can bring out the best in some and the worst in others. Historical regional mysteries don't get much better than this."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Laced with suspense, pathos, and violence, it's also an affecting portrayal of what makes humans behave the way they do . . . This is a wonderfully evocative historical mystery, its Dust Bowl bleakness offset by hope and humor."
"The sequel to Death of a Rainmaker . . . is just as atmospheric. The anguish and struggles of the Dust Bowl and Depression years are vividly depicted in this historical mystery."
“Let me just say I’m not crazy about historicals, especially the US in the 1930s . . . But Laurie Loewenstein’s Funeral Train is so beautifully written that I left my baggage behind and just climbed aboard . . . The writing is both lyrical and direct, without the condescension that many historical authors bring to their descriptions of people in extreme circumstances long ago.”
—Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine
Critical Praise for Death of a Rainmaker (book one in the Dust Bowl Mystery series)
“A portrait of Depression-era America so searingly authentic that the topsoil practically blows off each page.”
—Louis Bayard, author of Jackie & Me
“[T]his striking historical mystery...is brooding and gritty and graced with authenticity.”
—NPR on Death of a Rainmaker (book one in the Dust Bowl Mystery series), One of the Best Books of 2018
"Set in Vermillion, Okla., in 1935, this superb series launch from Loewenstein . . . beautifully captures the devastation of the land and people in the dust bowl." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The murder investigation allows Loewenstein to probe into the lives of proud people who would never expose their troubles to strangers. People like John Hodge, the town's most respected lawyer, who knocks his wife around, and kindhearted Etha Jennings, who surreptitiously delivers home-cooked meals to the hobo camp outside town because one of the young Civilian Conservation Corps workers reminds her of her dead son. Loewenstein's sensitive treatment of these dark days in the Dust Bowl era offers little humor but a whole lot of compassion."
—New York Times Book Review
"This richly detailed historical mystery brings the Dust Bowl to life, with the hardscrabble farms and semi-rural community barely coping with the losses of farms and local businesses. This evocative first volume in a new series should appeal to readers of Larry D. Sweazy’s 'Marjorie Trumaine' mysteries or Donis Casey's Oklahoma-set 'Alafair Tucker' books. Fans of narrative nonfiction, including Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time, the book that inspired this work, may also want to give it a try." —Library Journal, starred review, a Best Book of 2018
"The plot is solid in Death of a Rainmaker, but what makes Loewenstein's novel so outstanding is the cast of characters she has assembled . . . Death of a Rainmaker is a superb book, one that sets the reader right down amid some of the hardest times our country has faced, and lets us feel those hopeful farmers' despair as they witness their dreams turning to dust." —Mystery Scene Magazine