County Line

Published October 16, 2011 by myliteraryleanings

County Line by Bill Cameron

Overview from When the steadfast Ruby Jane Whittaker drops out of sight, dogged ex-cop Skin Kadash sets out to discover what drove the woman he loves to leave her life behind so suddenly and without explanation. The discovery of a dead man in her apartment followed by an attack from a mysterious stalker leads Skin first to California, then across the country on a desperate journey deep into Ruby Jane’s haunted past—and toward an explosive confrontation which will determine if either has a future.

My Review:

This book starts with a seemingly simple mystery.  An ex-cop, having not seen the woman he loves, a woman named Ruby Jane, for some time, decides to find out where she’s been lately and why he can’t get in touch with her.
He has been out-of-town for a month and has only been able to get in touch with her a couple.  After visiting her usual haunts, he decides to try her apartment.  He does not find her.  What he does find is a dead man in her tub and her cell phone still plugged into its charger.

The case seems clear-cut at first.  The dead man appears to be old transient who probably walked over from a nearby homeless center to take a bath and watch some porn.  His clothes are super dirty and in his pack he has only some aspirin, insulin and a photo album but on closer inspection, the ex-cop, a man named Skin, finds a picture of his love as young girl in the photo album which leads to more questions.

The story complicates further when Skin teams up with Ruby Jane’s ex-boyfriend as they chase after her past and the reason for her abrupt disappearance.  They track down her no-good brother in San Francisco who offers very few answers and then gets killed by a hit and run driver.

The brother’s information leads them to Ohio where they try to get some answers about Ruby Jane’s childhood which they hope will lead them to Ruby Jane herself.  Skin manages to find Ruby Jane and talk to her, with Pete sulking in the background the entire time, before he and Pete also find themselves as victims of a hit-and-run driver.  But before Skin can get back on his feet and find out more from Ruby Jane, she does another disappearing act.   The whole story continues to get weirder until both Skin and Ruby Jane discover all the family secrets, barely making it
out alive.

I have to say, this story was nothing like what I expected.  It goes back and forth a little bit between the 80’s and the year 2008, when Skin first finds the old man’s body.  Although the story line was compelling, I found the description to be even more so.  I liked how the author made the comparison of everyday things seem not so everyday.  For example:

“After a moment, I feel around on the nightstand for my cell phone.  The light from the display is a splash of acid in my eyes.  No calls, no messages.  It’s not even eleven.” P. 14

Another thing that I liked about the book was the way the author used the point-of-view device in this novel.  All of the 2008 part of the story is told in the first person point-of-view of Skin, who is after all the guy who introduces us to this bizarre story.  The 80’s part, featuring Ruby Jane’s teenage years, is all in the third-person point-of-view which is perfect since Ruby Jane seems either unable or unwilling to tell that story, or at least all of it, to anyone.

The only downside to the story is that the foul language and some of the sexual content got kind of heavy for this reader.   Well mainly the language.  I am not trying to judge Ruby Jane, she’s been through some heavy things, but I didn’t really feel comfortable with the four-letter words she uses.  Then again, maybe that it was the author was going for.  Let me know what you think?


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