Small Town Suspense

We are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin

This book is told from the perspectives of three people: Wyatt Branson, whose sister, Trumanelle, disappeared ten years before the beginning of the story; Odette Tucker, a police officer in the tiny Texas town where Trumanelle went missing; and Angel, a character we meet on page one.

Wyatt, Odette, and Angel have suffered tragedy. Their lives are thin threads (thin, but made of titanium) that hover between life and death, that hold untold secrets from everyone—and in one case, I think, even themselves—and that become inextricably linked by the events that led to the disappearance of Trumanelle.

With the exception of a few really low-down characters in this book, I felt sorry for almost everyone. The town has kept people, and not just the main characters, in the grip of an almost manic level of mystery surrounding Trumanelle’s disappearance, and no one seems able to escape or let go. Feelings of anger, rage, frustration, and violence run rampant even ten years after the disappearance, and distrust of Wyatt, especially, is a constant undercurrent in the book.

I would describe this novel as a slow-burn psychological suspense, with enough revelations and dirty laundry to make readers keep turning the pages. Though I knew who the villain was (or at least, who the WORST villain was) before the end, I didn’t know why that person did it and I enjoyed the little-by-little unfolding of the tale.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes psychological suspense, small town mysteries, and dark themes.

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What I’m reading:

2 ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) that I am LOVING and can’t wait to share with you

Audiobook: Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie

A Storm Hits Valparaíso by David Gaughran

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Until next time,

Amy

A Cryptic Mystery

Murder in the Crypt by Irina Shapiro

Jason Redmond, a physician and Captain in the Union Army during the American Civil War, has seen his fair share of horrors and atrocities—and experienced some of his own as a prisoner of war. When the war ends and Captain Redmond is freed, he discovers that during his absence, his love, Cecilia, has married his best friend. Crushed in spirit and not knowing what to do next, Jason receives word that his English grandfather has passed away, leaving Jason as the heir to his estate and the title that goes along with it.

Accompanied by a young boy (Micah) he met while in prison, Jason goes to England to settle the affairs of his grandfather. His arrival at the manor is the subject of great interest in the village of Birch Hill and its environs, and Jason and Micah haven’t been in residence for twenty-four hours before becoming the subjects of an investigation into a murder that occurred in the church crypt concurrent with their arrival.

The victim, a young man from a disreputable part of London, was discovered by the church pastor inside the tomb of a great ancestor of Birch Hill. A trail of blood led to the tomb, suggesting someone dragged the victim to that spot.

Who was the young man and why was he murdered?

The village constable, Daniel Haze, needs answers to these questions, and he needs them before the inquest, which is scheduled to take place not long after the discovery of the body. After a rather inauspicious beginning to their friendship, Daniel and Jason join forces to figure out who committed the murder and why.

The cover of this book is what attracted me first. It’s spooky and delightfully atmospheric. And the story is every bit as good as the cover. Both Jason and Daniel (and Micah, too) have experienced tragedy; as the story unfurls, the author reveals bits of backstory that continue to haunt the three characters.

The red herrings in this book are intriguing and subtle, and there were enough surprises to keep me turning pages well into the night to reach The End, where everything was explained and where there are tantalizing hints of the next mystery to embroil the team of Captain Redmond and Daniel Haze. I look forward to reading Book Two.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical mysteries (particularly those set in England during the Victorian Era), anyone who loves mysteries with complex yet relatable characters, and anyone who loves a good, old-fashioned mystery set in an English village.

Fowl Play is Out!

It’s my book birthday! I’m pleased to introduce Fowl Play, Book 6 in the Juniper Junction Cozy Holiday Mystery Series.

Here’s a look at the first review, from Veronica Cline Barton—

“It’s Thanksgiving week in Juniper Junction and jewelry store owner, Lilly Carlsen is getting ready for the holiday shopping season to begin. This year, she’s also hosting Thanksgiving dinner for her family and friends. As the countdown to turkey day grows shorter, her list of guests gets longer with the addition of new neighbors, an herbalist shop owner, and a real estate maven who’s taken on the listing for Lilly’s mother’s home. As the group gathers on the big day, not everything goes to plan, bringing a few, at times tense, laugh-out-loud moments to be enjoyed.

The shocking death of one of the guests brings Lilly and her Thanksgiving company under scrutiny from the law. Lilly is determined to clear her name, but will her sleuthing put her in the path of a killer? Family drama is taking its toll too, as Lilly deals with her mother’s decline from dementia and her daughter’s pregnant, angst-filled friend who is living with them. Her romance with Hassan is heating up, will their future take a serious turn?

Author Reade once again weaves an intriguing whodunnit that will keep you guessing. I thoroughly enjoy this holiday mystery series and this tale does not disappoint. This is a great read for thee holiday season–sit back and enjoy the cozy perils and warm, delights of Fowl Play! A highly recommended read!”

… and the second review, from Evie Gaskins—

“First I must say I am a huge fan of this whole series and that being said this was my favorite book so far! I highly recommend not just this book but also the whole series. Reading these books is like being part of the delightful town of Juniper Junction and just another one of Lillys friends. This book really has you twisting and turning right to the very end. Once again I had no idea who did it and could not put the book down. There are so many wonderful threads of storylines also happening in this book that really develop the characters even further than before and then weave them all into the main story plot. Truly wonderful writing. With a cup of coffee or tea and some snacks curled up on a sofa this book can just take you away to a wonderful adventure. I do not want to spoil any of the fun but for fans of this series there is the most delightful new character named Finley. I do not want to tell to much about him only that you will love him as soon as you meet him. This book is worth every moment spent reading and I highly recommend Fowl Play.”

A huge THANK YOU to both readers for reading and reviewing Fowl Play!

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If you haven’t picked up your copy, get it by clicking HERE!

And thanks to all my readers for your support!

Delightful Cape May Cozy

Scones and Scofflaws by Jane Gorman

Following the death of her great-aunt Louise, Anna McGregor—the main character in this first-in-series cozy mystery—has inherited Climbing Rose Cottage, a bed and breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey (don’t you love the name “Climbing Rose Cottage”??). Anna, a medical anthropologist, has arrived in Cape May with some emotional baggage, a must for all great main characters. She has recently broken up with someone who not only hurt her romantically, but also destroyed her career.

Anna is in the process of fixing the B&B up a bit and is eager to welcome her first guests, though with that eagerness comes some trepidation about this new venture. The trepidation turns to dismay and horror when her first guest drops dead at the breakfast table, having eaten one of Anna’s blueberry scones.

Talk about killer scones.

Now Anna has to convince the people in the charming south Jersey town, as well as any future guests of her fledgling new business, that she’s not a killer. Luckily, she’s not alone—she has the help of her hunky handyman, a certain police officer (a big plus, since the police are mostly not on her side), her best friend (a Wildwood bakery owner), a young Irish visitor, and a keen kitty.

Anna is an intriguing main character and I enjoyed the way she puzzled through the clues and red herrings in this book. She has a hot temper and manages to alienate people in the closely-knit town because of the way she approaches them with questions, but she’s strong and determined to exonerate herself without becoming a damsel in distress. I like her spunk.

The pacing of the book is great and the potential for relationships between and among the various characters is ripe. I look forward to reading the next two books currently in the series and seeing where the author takes these possible storylines. I also love Cape May, so it was fun to read a story set in the area and recognize some of the places the author mentions. And bonus: if you like a good cocktail, the Scofflaw recipe in the back of the book is terrific!

Special note: for anyone living in or visiting the Cape May area, author Jane Gorman will be at the Cape May Fall Festival on October 15, 2022, at Cape May Convention Hall.

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I’ve got a great deal to share with you this week. Sixty authors have gotten together to offer sixty free stories to readers! I picked up a few of them myself. Follow the link below to take a look at the books!

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What I’m reading:

Murder in the Crypt by Irina Shapiro

We are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin

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Until next time,

Amy