Picks and Pans Review: Love Her Madly

updated 02/04/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/04/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Page-turner of the week

With its dim view of Texas politics, this isn't the thriller to tote to your next White House dinner. But readers with a taste for tough-minded heroines—and a ten-gallon sense of humor about the Lone Star State—should be pleased to meet Poppy Rice. Introduced as a supporting player in Tirone Smith's first foray into crime, 1998's An American Killing, the crack FBI crime lab director has asked for a reassignment to get back into action. She finds plenty when she reinvestigates the case of Rona Leigh Glueck, a convicted ax murderer who claims to have found God while awaiting lethal injection on Texas's death row. (She's closely based on Karla Faye Tucker, whose 1998 execution sparked a furor.) Poppy seems on her way to proving Glueck innocent—until a midpoint plot twist turns this potentially predictable tale into something more interesting. The true revelation, however, is pushy, profane Poppy, who winds up with two enviable accessories: a $650 pair of cowboy boots and a strapping Texas Ranger. (Holt, $25)

Bottom Line: One tough G-woman

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