Itís hard to know how much of my affection for Karen E. Olsonís Sacred Cows is based on Olsonís skill as a writer, and how much is based on my recognition of the various locales featured in the novel, set in Connecticut, where I live.
The book centers on a hard-boiled reporter named Annie Seymour, who lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut. One morning, Annie is rousted from her sleep to check out the murder of a Yale student named Melissa Peabody. A seemingly normal girl, Melissa had a twisted secret life Ė which I wonít reveal here Ė and soon Annie finds herself drawn into the mystery surrounding Melissaís death, which of course leads Annie into danger and possible death.
The clever plot also involves Annieís bratty underling at work, her domineering mother, and a formerly geeky high school classmate who has grown up into a shockingly attractive private investigator. Not to mention a parade of fiberglass cows infiltrating New Haven. Itís a fun romp, and Annie is an appealing protagonist Ė cranky yet witty; tough, yet vulnerable and easy to root for. But for a Connecticut resident, some of the bookís purest joys are the many local landmarks that pepper the story.
Still, even non-Connecticutters should appreciate Olsonís witty and compelling storytelling.