Here’s what I don’t understand. Why did it take so long for someone to write a really great mystery set in out-state Minnesota? And now that someone—Lisa Bullard—has written one, why aren’t there copies in every library and on all the bookstore shelves everywhere?
This is not the kind of middle-grade mystery that will appeal only to Minnesotans. It’s the kind of book that can serve as a passport for non-Minnesotans, furthering their understanding of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Turn Left at the Cow (Houghton Mifflin, 2013) has got everything you’d want in a summertime, small-town Minnesota novel:
- an inviting lake for the hero, Trav, to live by
- a taciturn grandmother who routinely drives her pickup to the dump
- a mystery for Trav and his neighbor, Iz, to solve
- butter sculptures
- hot dish (a one-dish mix of noodles and stuff)
- chicken poop bingo (for real)
- a Fourth of July parade
- and a large fiberglass fish on the town’s main drag:
I looked over my shoulder. “That’s got to be the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen. What kind is it, anyway?”
“Bullhead,” said Iz. “Uncle Ken says there aren’t even that many of them in the lake. But I think all the other Minnesota fish had already been taken by other towns, so I guess we ended up with the ugly one.”
She said it like there was some law that you had to build a giant fish statue to qualify as a Minnesota town. Maybe there was one—who knows?
Basically, Turn Left at the Cow has everything in it but a meat raffle—and that’s understandable, since meat raffles are more of a winter happening.
It’s a satisfying mystery, a fun first romance, and hopefully the first of many novels to come by Bullard.