If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him… by Sharyn McCrumb

Ballantine (first), 1995

McCrumb’s three series can be placed on a continuum of laughter to tears. Her science-fiction-groupie series which led off with Bimbos of the Death Sun is laughter; in her stunning ballad series, set in Appalachia’s present and past, she displays a kaleidoscope of human tragedies, and shows us also endurance and the possibility of joy. If I’d Killed Him is the eighth book of her in-the-middle series featuring forensic anthropologist and Anglophile Elizabeth MacPherson, a series that has been weighted toward the funny side, sometimes resulting in a feast of laughter (The Windsor Knot; MacPherson’s Lament) and occasionally in an uneasy compromise between the humorous and the gory (Sick of Shadows). Now McCrumb has mastered the tensions of dark humor — her newest mystery is rich with read-aloud-able hilarity inextricably linked to anger and death and the strife between females and males; exercising her remarkable creativity, she manages to take romance, sex and murder beyond the species level. The title is taken from a battered woman’s comment: “If I’d killed him when I met him, I’d be out of prison now” and the main theme is spouse-a-cide by a killer with a gift for stand-up comedy. A perfect delight. (Jeanne M Jacobson)

Originally published in Issue # 136 – March/April 1995

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