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She's short, round, and pushing forty, but Julia Kalas is a damned good criminal. For 17 years she renovated historic California buildings as a laundry front for her husband's illegal arms business. Then the Aryan Brotherhood made her a widow, and witness protection shipped her off to the tiny town of Azula, Texas. Also known as the Middle of Nowhere.
The Lone Star sticks are lousy with vintage architecture begging to be rehabbed. Julia figures she'll pick up where she left off, but she's got a federal watchdog now: police chief Teresa Hallstedt, who is none too happy to have another felon in her jurisdiction. Teresa wants Julia where she can keep an eye on her, which turns out to be behind the bar at the local watering hole. The bar's owner, Hector Guerra, catches Julia's eye, so she takes the job. But before she can get to know him as well as she'd like, they find a dead body on the bar's roof.
The county sheriff begins trying to pin the murder on Hector for reasons that Julia discovers are both personal and nefarious. Unfortunately, the evidence cooperates, but Julia's finely-honed personal radar tells her Hector isn't a killer. She risks reconnecting with the outlaw underground to prove it and learns the hard way that she's not nearly as tough--or as right--as she thinks she is.
Nine Days, Koenig's debut, is atmospheric, gutsy and fun, and Julia Kalas is an intriguing new heroine in crime fiction.