Don’t read Index of Suspicion by Robert E. Armstrong until all your pets have had fresh rabies vaccinations. Using his knowledge as a veterinarian—he graduated from WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1962—Armstrong has constructed a complex and frightening plot that hinges on the deliberate infection of people with the rabies virus as an instrument of murder.
Set in Texas, where Armstrong now lives, this fast-paced whodunnit stars an aging veterinarian who becomes caught up in the rabies plot. Armed with his technical knowledge and plenty of courage, the vet investigates the death of a presidential candidate and a grand old dame of the Texas political scene.
Armstrong graces the story with the strong and capable character of the veterinarian’s wife. Although she is always producing home-baked food for her husband, she also shares in his investigation. In the end her excellent marksmanship helps wind up the story.
Index of Suspicion is Armstrong’s second mystery. (His first book, Canis, was reviewed in Hilltopics June 2001.) It will hold readers’ interest as its complicated plot unfolds. Armstrong is to be commended for educating readers about rabies while providing us with a gripping story. And unlike many authors of hard-boiled mysteries, he does not drench his prose with profanity or sex.
But don’t read this book shortly before bed. The scenes of rabid animals and people slowly dying can certainly cause nightmares.
– E. Kirsten Peters, author of a childrens adventure novel and four mystery novels.