Larry Watson’s third novel, White Crosses, begins at the bloody scene of a fatal single-car accident on May 28, 1957 — graduation night in Bentrock, Mont. The victims are the town’s middle-school principal and an 18-year-old grad; the trunk’s packed with their luggage. Sheriff Jack Nevelsen is not about to let loose such a scandal on his town. To protect their families, he concocts an elaborate lie that sets off a disastrous chain of events. This uneven mystery works best when it delves into the secrets surrounding the ill-fated liaison but bogs down when the sheriff descends into his own personal calamity. B

White Crosses
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