Book Review: Surviving Doodahville by Ashley Fontainne and Lillian Hansen

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Title: Surviving Doodahville
Authors: Ashley Fontainne and Lillian Hansen
Narrator: Rebecca Roberts
Publication Date: May 24, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Southern Fiction, Romance

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Surviving Doodahville
Ashley Fontainne and Lillian Hansen
Narrated by Rebecca Roberts
RMSW Press, May 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the authors—

The summer of 1983 – the era of big debt, big hair, and big dreams. Seventeen-year-old Kassandra Lawson is excited about starting her senior year of high school. She has a crush on a local hunk, and her best friend, valley girl extraordinaire Liz Hendricks, insists on helping her snag the hot guy – for sure!

July starts out uneventful for Kee and her parents. Her father, Kevin, is a partner at a CPA firm, and her mother, Gail, works as a secretary at the police department. The small family lives an idyllic life in sunny Hacienda Heights, California.

1983 also brings upheaval and strife for the Lawson clan. A death in the family forces Kevin and Gail to make the painful decision to pack up and move to Kevin’s hometown of Daltville, Arkansas.

Each faces daunting challenges adapting to their new life. Gail and Kee aren’t quite sure they can handle the culture shock. They encounter social and racial issues they never faced on the West Coast, strange food, weird dialects, odd customs, and wicked secrets that have the potential to destroy their family.

More than just a coming-of-age story, Surviving Doodahville explores family bonds, racial barriers, and just how much a person is willing to sacrifice for others. The tale is full of humor, action and a touch of mystery, making it a fun romp into the past.

Well, dagnabbit. I made it all the way to the last chapter with nary a sniffle and then I turned into a near-sobbing wretch 😉

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Rising high school senior Kee and her parents are living the California dream so when circumstances lead Gail and Kevin to decide to move to Daltville, Arkansas, she’s devastated and pretty sure life is over. Then again, fate has a way of making one take a second look and Kee soon thinks her parents’ betrayal doesn’t hold a candle to another pair of betrayals.

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Off they go to what can only be called a stereotypical Southern backwoods town complete with racism, secrets, years-long feuds, overblown morality…and a tremendous amount of charm and possibilities. Kee soon finds that high school in this redneck town isn’t entirely terrible and her small family can help bring about some major changes.

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Romance and friendships blossom in Surviving Doodahville but, at times, I couldn’t help feeling a kind of superiority that these Californians exhibited towards their new neighbors. It was a bit like Kee, Gail and Kevin were the shining examples for goodness and light and that Daltville could only be lifted from its darkness by these more enlightened transplants. Still, a number of the townspeople were good solid citizens and very likeable indeed so I didn’t think the “preaching” was overdone. Truthfully, back in the early 80’s, a lot of what is wrong in Daltville was also wrong elsewhere and still exists today. Now, as in those days, good people matter and can make a difference.
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Side note: The cover is very appealing but I’m puzzled by the sign that reads “DooDah Ville”. Which is correct, DooDah Ville or Doodahville?
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Rebecca Roberts is new to me as a narrator and I was impressed by her performance. Ms. Roberts has a very pleasing tone and does accents/dialect really well. Most of all, she’s believable as a teenaged girl and she added a great deal to my enjoyment of this book.
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Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2019.

About the Authors

Award-winning and International bestselling author, Ashley Fontainne, is an avid reader, becoming a fan of the written word in her youth, starting with the Nancy Drew mystery series. Stories that immerse the reader deep into the human psyche and the monsters lurking within us are her favorite reads.

Her muse for penning the Eviscerating the Snake series was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Ashley’s love for this book is what sparked her desire to write her debut novel, Accountable to None, the first book in the trilogy. With a modern setting to the tale, Ashley delves into just what lengths a person is willing to go to when seeking personal justice for heinous acts perpetrated against them. The second novel in the series, Zero Balance, focuses on the cost and reciprocal cycle that obtaining revenge has on the seeker. Once the cycle starts, where does it end? How far will the tendrils of revenge expand? Adjusting Journal Entries answers that question—far and wide.

The short thriller entitled Number Seventy-Five touches upon the dangerous world of online dating. Number Seventy-Five took home the BRONZE medal in fiction/suspense at the 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards.

The paranormal thriller entitled The Lie won the GOLD medal in the 2013 Illumination Book Awards for fiction/suspense. A movie based on this book, entitled Foreseen, is currently a feature film available on video-on-demand from Amazon.

Ashley delved into the paranormal with a Southern Gothic horror/suspense novel, Growl, which released in January of 2015. The suspenseful mystery Empty Shell released in September of 2014. Ashley teamed up with Lillian Hansen (Ashley calls her Mom!) and penned a three-part murder mystery/suspense series entitled The Magnolia Series. The first book, Blood Ties, released in 2015 and was voted one of the Top 50 Self-Published Books You Should Be Reading in 2015 at http://www.readfree.ly.

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Lillian Hansen is the proud mother of Ashley Fontainne and a grateful daughter of parents who raised her to love and respect the principles upon which America was founded. Lillian is the granddaughter of a brave young woman who immigrated to the United States from Denmark at the age of 18 without speaking any English, who built a career, a family, and became a proud U.S. Citizen.

Lillian values the diverse, life-enriching experiences squirreled away in her memory banks and is fond of all four-legged critters, especially cats. Lillian lives in Arkansas and Surviving Doodahville is her third novel.

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About the Narrator

After a career in finance, Rebecca Roberts became inspired to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an actress. Her ingenuity and ardent desire brought her to voice-acting which has rapidly grown into her thriving audiobook narration and production company, Atlantis Audio Productions. She has narrated and produced over seventy audiobooks for indie authors and major publishing houses. Rebecca delivers her stories with a mature and intelligent style characterized by a believable tone, and versatility in creating memorable and individual characters with her various accents and vocal qualities. In short, she narrates with her whole heart. Rebecca is a native Floridian, proud mother to three sparkling children, and wife to the man of her dreams.

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Book Review: Dark Deception by Nancy Mehl—and a Giveaway!

Dark Deception
Defenders of Justice #2
Nancy Mehl
Bethany House Publishers, June 2017
ISBN 978-0-7642-1778-4
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Kate O’Brien has been leading a quiet life in small-town Shelter Cove, Arkansas, for the past four years when her past suddenly comes roaring back to life. Four years ago, she and her twin sister were attacked by an elusive serial killer. Only Kate survived, and it was her drawing of the attacker–along with some last-minute evidence–that convicted the suspect.

She’s been in witness protection ever since, but new evidence suggests the convicted man isn’t the murderer and she’s been subpoenaed to testify in the new trial. Nervous about the risk, she’ll only agree if the same marshal who protected her during the original trial escorts her to St. Louis.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Tony DeLuca accepts the assignment to bring Kate to the trial, remembering how her strength impressed him. While in Shelter Cove, however, he gets a call from his chief, advising them to stay in Shelter Cove until a new development in the case can be straightened out. But when Kate’s safety is threatened, Tony must race against the clock to keep her alive and put this ugly case to rest before anyone else gets killed.

There’s nothing quite like a good serial killer story, you know? Well, yes, I know not everyone will agree with that assessment but I happen to like such things, whatever that night say about me or my reading taste 😉 Moving right along, Dark Deception has an extra added attraction, the white-knuckle effect of knowing said serial killer is out to get you, unlike being the usual random target.

Kate is a really likeable woman with the intent to do good but she also is intelligent enough to recognize danger and want to avoid it plus she’s willing to accept help when she needs it, especially from the marshal who looked after her the first time. For his part, Tony remembers Kate and her strengths and accepts his assignment most willingly. The two have a connection from the past and there’s more of that this time around but not so much as to overwhelm the core story.

In a way, the premise here is a little lacking, at least for me. The excitement of a serial killer kind of fizzles when the guy who’s after the heroine may not actually be a serial killer, just a run-of-the-mill wrongfully convicted guy out for revenge. On the other hand, that does mean Tony’s going to have to figure out the truth and I did appreciate that this element makes Dark Deception more intense than many romantic suspense novels.

Lots of twists and turns keep things moving at a good clip and I really enjoyed spending time with Kate and Tony. It’s been a while since I read anything by Nancy Mehl but that’s my mistake, one I plan to rectify ASAP 🙂

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2017.

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Purchase Links:

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About the Author

Nancy Mehl is the author of twenty-three books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She is a Carol Award finalist and writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson.

Connect with Nancy

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Book Review: A Portrait to Die For by Radine Trees Nehring

A Portrait to Die ForA Portrait to Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
Dark Oak Mysteries, January 2016
ISBN 978-1-61009-222-7
Trade Paperback

Carrie McCrite and her husband Henry King have had several adventures that have brought them both close to danger and now Henry has put his foot down.   He is insisting that Carrie stop getting the couple involved in criminal activities.  Carrie has a habit of noticing things that others might overlook and so she has managed to get the couple in some tight spots.   Carrie has promised that she will abide by Henry’s wishes.

That promise lasted just about as long as it took Carrie to get to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art where she was volunteering.  First she ran into a woman who was trying to get away from a man and she asked Carrie to say she had gone the other way.

As Carrie wandered around the museum viewing some of the new items she stopped to study “Twins With Daisies” by Marie Forneau. This was part of the items on loan from Port View Historical Society’s collection.  Carrie immediately noticed what she took to be a discrepancy in the picture but decided to keep it to herself.  Valerie Knight, the museum’s director of communications requested that Carrie speak with Maylynn Brewer, a reporter, who was interested in Carrie’s observations as a volunteer.

The two didn’t hit it off right away but that changed when Maylynn suddenly disappeared.  It turned out that Carrie’s son Rob was an old friend of Maylynn’s. In addition, Catherine who is engaged to Rob was also acquainted with Maylynn.   Rob also informed Carrie and Henry that Maylynn had a twin brother who had some problems that arose from his duty in the service overseas.  In spite of all the promises not to get involved, Carrie and Henry are trying to find out what has happened to Maylynn and how it might be connected to “Twins With Daisies” since Maylynn had also mentioned noticing a discrepancy in the picture.  Rob and Catherine decide to join in the hunt for Maylynn and soon they are all four in more trouble than they ever thought of.

I enjoyed this book and looking forward to more from this author.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2016.

Book Review: Beneath Still Waters by Cynthia A. Graham

Beneath Still WatersBeneath Still Waters
Cynthia A. Graham
Blank Slate Press, March 2015
ISBN 978-0-9913058-4-1
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

The swamps and bayous around Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas have always been dark and mysterious, but on this summer day two boys stumble across the remains of a baby girl, headless and badly decomposed. Hick Blackburn, a reluctant sheriff with a troubled past is called to the scene. With nothing to go on except the baby’s race and sex, the task of discovering who she is and how she died challenges all of Hick’s investigative skills. But Hick faces a deeper challenge. The vision of the infant has left him shattered, a reminder of a war crime he has tried to lock away, a crime that has begun to eat away at the edges of his life, destroying him one relationship at a time.

With the aid of his deputies, Hick will begin to piece together his investigation, an investigation that will lead him to question everything. As he is forced to examine the town he grew up in, he will come to terms with the notion that within each of us lays the propensity for both good and evil. His investigation will turn up lies and ignorance, scandal and deceit, and the lengths a mother will go in order to hide her shame.

In World War I, they called it “shell shock” and, in World War II, the term was “combat fatigue”. Today, we know the condition as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and, while many people outside of combat situations suffer from PTSD, war is undoubtedly a primary cause. In Beneath Still Waters, two characters experience PTSD for different reasons but both stem from their service in World War II and this becomes a distinct focus of the story.

When I first heard about this novel, I was prepared for the usual kind of mystery but, within the first few pages, I knew this was going to be something totally different and, quite frankly, Ms. Graham kept me glued to the pages till the very end. Yes, there is a death and a quite horrific one at that, and it will need to be solved but it’s the young sheriff, Hick Blackburn, who took me so much by surprise. Unlike nearly every other law enforcer out there in the crime fiction field, Hick is a young man who not only doesn’t really want to be sheriff but who is actually bad at the job. His reactions to certain situations are more than puzzling; as an example, he initially thinks there should be no investigation because he wonders what good will come from it, that it might be better to let things be. This is most assuredly not the way most sheriffs would look at things but it certainly got my attention and I was more drawn in when I began to realize he was making some pretty major mistakes even considering the times (1948).

Woven throughout the contemporary story are nightmares that Hick is having from his war years, nightmares that have led him to break off his engagement and pull away from life in general. Has the death of the baby made things worse and, if so, why? Meanwhile, another young veteran, Tobe, also seems unable to deal with his return home although his struggles show up in drunken gunwaving, putting his wife and himself in peril.

Recently, I read a book in which worldbuilding was decidedly lacking but that is not the case here. Ms. Graham had me feeling the heat, the humidity, the squishy mud in the slough and I could easily visualize the post-war small Southern town with its insularity and its disbelief that such a crime could happen in Cherokee Crossing. Each character, even those considered secondary, is finely drawn and there was never any confusion as to whose voice I was hearing.

As for the mystery, the simple solution was easy to see fairly early on but Ms. Graham was not satisfied with a simple solution and the complete answer is disturbing and says a lot about the nature of human failings. I cannot recommend Beneath Still Waters highly enough for readers who look for a good mystery surrounded by a psychological study and this will be on my list of best books read in 2016.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2016.

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About the Author

Cynthia A. GrahamCynthia A. Graham has a B.A. in English from the Pierre Laclede Honors College at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. She was the winner of several writing awards during her academic career and her short stories have appeared in both university and national literary publications. Cynthia is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, the Missouri Writer’s Guild, and Sisters In Crime. Beneath Still Waters is her first novel.

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Book Reviews: A Wedding to Die For by Radine Trees Nehring, The Demands by Mark Billingham, Viral by James Lilliefors, The Prophet by Michael Koryta, and They Disappeared by Rick Mofina

A Wedding to Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
St. Kitts Press, 2006
ISBN No. 978-1-931206-01-3
Trade Paperback

Here Comes The Bride and this time it is Carrie McCrite who is getting married.  But she is confused about how to have a wonderful wedding but one that is appropriate for a mature bride and groom.

On the advice of her friends Henry and Carrie take a trip to inspect The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  Carrie immediately falls in love with the place and decides it is indeed a perfect place for a wedding.

In trying to plan the wedding Carrie and Henry are plunged into a vicious scheme to run a florist and his family out of Eureka Springs.  Certain residents are prejudiced and don’t want Chandra and Ashur Mukherjee, owners of Artistic Floral Designs of Eureka Springs, to continue business in their town.

Carrie and Henry make friends with the two and try to help them out through a bombing and a murder.  Other friends of Carrie and Henry join in to help as well.

But even in Eureka Springs Carrie can’t escape the ghost bride wearing red who has been haunting her dreams.

I enjoyed the characters in the books and the descriptions of the area.  Nehring tells a good story and gives a good description of how an older couple deciding on a wedding might feel.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, May 2007.

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The Demands
Mark Billingham
Mulholland Books, 2012
ISBN No. 978-0-316-12663-2
Hardcover

We are all creatures of habit, and Helen Weeks is no exception.   Helen, a detective for the police department and a single mother, stops at a newsagent every morning for her newspaper, gum and some candy.  As Helen is paying for her items three boys walk into the shop wrestling with each other and messing with the stock.  Javed Akhtar, the owner, chases the boys out of the shop.  Helen and the man behind her in the store are shocked when Akhtar locks the door to the shop and pulls a gun on his two customers.

So begins a situation that is terrifying to the hostages as well as the police attempting to see them released without harm.  The hostages are handcuffed to the radiator. Stephen Mitchell, the other customer taken hostage, seems to think that Helen can use her familiarity with Akhtar and her skills as a detective to miraculously rescue them from the situation.  But he soon realizes she has no power over Akhtar.

Akhtar orders Helen to get in touch with a detective named Thorne.  Helen knows Thorne since she dealt with him when her boyfriend was killed.  Helen learns Akhtar’s son, Amin Akhtar, was involved in a manslaughter case and sentenced to prison. Amin killed himself in Barndale Young Offenders Institution eight weeks earlier.  Thorne is familiar with the manslaughter case and had been surprised the boy got the stiff sentence that he did.

Akhtar does not believe that his son’s death was a suicide and he is demanding that Thorne find out what really happened.  Thorne is racing against time in his investigation into the boy’s death.  Two people’s lives are at stake and it is up to him to save them.  But first he must satisfy all of Akhtar’s questions and prove that his son was murdered.

As Thorne investigates, he finds more and more puzzling things about the conviction and the boy’s death – some that will come as a shock to Akhtar.  The story switches back and forth between Thorne who is seeking answers on the outside and Helen Weeks who is one of the hostages.  It is a race against time as the police outside the newsagent’s shop try to determine whether to go in with force or hope Thorne comes up with answers.

Mark Billingham introduced Sgt. Helen Weeks in the novel In the DarkThe Demands bring Weeks and Thorne together and this reader hopes for more adventures involving Weeks and Thorne.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, May 2012.

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Viral
James Lilliefors
Soho Press, Inc., 2012
ISBN No. 978-1-61695-068-2
Hardcover

Two brothers separated by years and miles work together to stop an evil plan to spread a deadly virus that will change the world.  Charles Mallory is a private intelligence contractor and former CIA operative.  His brother Jon, an investigative reporter, is alarmed when a call from his brother Charles is not received as scheduled.  Charles is counting on Jon to be a witness to some event that he has yet to reveal to Jon.

Charles is investigating a lead found in a message left by his father in a safe deposit box.  He is acting undercover, using fictitious names but someone is alert to his movements and Charles knows that he is in danger.   When Jon begins to search for his brother Charles leaves clues that only his brother would be able to follow.  Jon is able to decipher the clues but is still lost as to what he is to witness.

Terrible events are happening in a remote area of Africa.  People go to bed at night and just never wake up.  A whole village is wiped out.  Charles is working against time to find out who is behind the scheme and figure out how to put a stop to it before there are more deaths.

The book shifts back and forth between Jon and Charles as well as some of Jon’s contacts in Africa.  The book is well written but at times, it was hard to keep the characters straight.  The descriptions are very graphic and not to be read by a squeamish reader. The entire plot is not revealed until well into the novel.  Viral is an exciting book that keeps the reader on edge.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2012.

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The Prophet
Michael Koryta
Little, Brown and Company, 2012
ISBN No. 978-0-316-12261-0
Hardcover

Marie Austin was picked up on her way home from school, brutally attacked and killed.  The death of Marie had a profound effect on her brothers Adam and Kent.  The family was torn apart by the tragedy.  Both boys were outstanding football players.  Kent went on to become a coach at the high school.  Adam became a bondsman and private detective.  Adam felt responsible for his sister’s death.  He was to pick her up and give her a ride home from school but instead he picked up Chelsea Salinas and spent the evening with her.

Adam is still with Chelsea even though she is married.  Her husband is in prison.  Adam owns his parents house along with his brother Kent.  Adam has reconstructed Marie’s room to be exactly as it was when she was alive and spends many hours in Marie’s room.

Kent has married and loves his job as Coach of the local football team.  A championship is in sight and Kent is busy preparing his team.  Kent is also deeply religious and became involved in visiting prisoners.  Adam is furious that Kent has taken this road in life.  Adam still attends the games coached by his brother but there is no closeness between the two brothers.

This all changes when another girl dies.  A girl directly connected to Adam.  Adam vows that he will find her killer and avenge her death.  When a person connected to the young girl’s killing threatens Kent and his family, the two brothers join together to protect Kent’s family and stop the killer.  Although seemingly the brothers are working together, Adam keeps Kent in the dark about some facts in the case and strikes out on his own.

The Prophet is a very exciting book with characters that I loved.  As I neared the end of the book I postponed reading the final pages.  I just did not want this book to end.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, August 2012.

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They Disappeared
Rick Mofina
Harlequin MIRA, 2012
ISBN No. 978-0778313816
Mass Market Paperback

Cole Griffin is nine years old and his dream is to see Manhattan and that dream is about to come true.  Jeff, Cole’s father, is a mechanic and volunteer fire fighter in the family’s Laurel, Montana hometown.  Sarah, Cole’s mother, is a schoolteacher.  The family of three had been a family of four until Cole’s baby sister died.  Since Cole’s baby sister died, Jeff and Sarah had been holding the family together with a thread.  Neither parent is good at handling their grief and this has caused a rift in their marriage. The couple is hoping the rift can be repaired during this family vacation.  The decision to visit New York is two-fold.  Cole will have his dream fulfilled and Jeff and Sarah hope to be able to put their troubles behind them.

Fate has a way of changing the best-laid plans and the Griffin’s are thrown a curve when they pick up their bags at the airport. Cole picked up what appeared to be his bag but when the Griffin’s get to the hotel it is discovered that Cole has someone else’s bag.  None of the contents are Cole’s but he is fascinated with a tiny plastic toy jet that falls out of the bag.  Arrangements are made to meet with the owner of the bag that Cole picked up by mistake and the exchange is made but with a small but very important exception.  Cole left the plastic jet on the windowsill in the hotel.

When Jeff steps into a shop and leaves Sarah and Cole on the street the mother and son are abducted.  It seems the plastic jet is a very important piece in a group of terrorists plan.  The group has no concern for the lives of Cole and his mother and will take any step necessary to get the jet back.  When Jeff leaves the shop, he finds his wife and son gone.  Frantically Jeff contacts the police.

The police investigate but not to Jeff’s satisfaction.  Jeff begins his own investigation and surprisingly is a very good detective.  With his son and wife at risk, Jeff manages to finds clues faster than the police do.

The hunt is exciting and terrifying and always there is the fear of what the terrorists will do to Sarah and Cole before Jeff and the police can uncover their location.

Rick Mofina draws on his experience as a news reporter to bring the reader thrillers such as They Disappeared.  The story keeps the reader on edge as the danger mounts for the Griffin family. I’ve enjoyed many of Rick Mofina‘s books.  He always gives the reader an exciting story.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, October 2012.

Book Review: A Fair to Die For by Radine Trees Nehring—And A Giveaway!

A Fair To Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
Oak Tree Press, February 2012
ISBN No. 9781610091220
Trade Paperback

Carrie McCrite and Henry King have their own little patch of paradise in scenic Arkansas.  The couple are enjoying their early years of marriage although both are senior citizens.  They have a comfortable home, a close circle of friends and it would seem the couple is living a life that many would envy.

It comes as a shock to Carrie when she receives a phone call from a woman who identifies herself as Edie, Carrie’s cousin.  Edie asks for Carrie Culpepper, which is Carrie’s maiden name.   Carrie has no recollection of this woman but Edie plows ahead telling Carrie her name was Edith Embler and started explaining her connection to Carrie and how she had managed to trace Carrie.   Edie’s statements could be true but then again it might be a well-rehearsed story.  Carrie discusses the phone call with Henry and they decide to invite the woman to lunch and learn more about who she is and why she is contacting Carrie now.  The first thing Carrie begins to worry about is what to have for lunch.  Henry solved that little problem by contacting his friend Chef John Bohnert who offered several suggestions.

Edie arrived as agreed and attempted to explain her background and why she was in the area.  It seems that Edie’s father may have been involved in some illegal drug scheme.  Carrie had never used drugs nor had Henry who is an ex-police officer.  They are both shocked by what Edie has told them about her father.  Before Edie’s visit ends, Carrie and Henry are going to have a lot to be shocked about and find themselves in some very dangerous positions.

Although Edie is invited to stay with Carrie and Henry, she insisted that she had a reservation at a local hotel.   They made plans to meet the next morning and go to War Eagle Mill, a local attraction that is having a craft fair beginning the next week.

This simple lunch and plans to visit War Eagle begin a series of events that reveal “Cousin Edie” may be involved with some dangerous people and her connection to Carrie and Henry place the couple as well as some of their friends in danger.    Carrie helps her friend sell her wares at the fair and while helping makes some inquiries among the other vendors.  These inquiries lead some people to believe that Carrie knows more about their affairs than is actually the truth.

You will have to read A Fair To Die For to learn how Carrie and Henry manage to find out the real story behind “Cousin Edie”.  This is just one of the books in the series that take the reader into the world of Carrie and Henry.  Once you’ve read the couple’s story and meet their friends through the pages of Nehring‘s books you will want to visit the locations so wonderfully described in these books.  You will also want to read the entire series and wait impatiently for the next novel.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, May 2012.

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Want to win a free book? Leave a comment here and you’ll

be entered in the drawing for A Valley to Die For, first in

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Book Review: A Valley to Die For by Radine Trees Nehring—And A Giveaway!

A Valley to Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
St. Kitts Press, April 2002
ISBN 0-9661879-9-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Carrie McCrite and her husband, Amos, had dreamed of retiring to a home in the Ozark mountains. After Amos dies in a hunting accident, Carrie decides to go ahead with their dream, but alone. She needs to be someone – to prove she’s a capable woman who can take care of herself. Carrie meets neighbor JoAnne Harrington, a man-hater who certainly provides an example of female independence. And there are important things to do when a stone quarry threatens to turn part of their beloved valley into heaps of gravel. The two women and their neighbors band together to fight for their valley. But someone decides JoAnne must die. Grieving over JoAnne’s death, Carrie feels compelled to uncover and destroy the mystery and darkness now swirling in the valley. That’s what a strong woman would do. Then Carrie’s new neighbor, retired Kansas City Police Major, Henry King, warns her that she, and not JoAnne, may have been the killer’s real target. But that’s ridiculous – isn’t it? And Henry is hiding secrets of his own. How strong can Carrie be? How much danger can she survive? It’s time to find out.

Years ago, when my now ex-husband was in the Air Force and our first daughter was a baby, we were stationed for a while in Bossier City, Louisiana. This was new territory for us native Virginians and we enjoyed doing the tourist thing in Louisiana and surrounding states.  The one significant trip we never had the chance to make was to the Ozarks in Arkansas. I was especially interested in that area because I’d heard that it was very similar to our own very distinctive Appalachian Mountains, a place I’d loved to visit on camping vacations since I was a child. Alas, Air Force pay in 1970 and 1971 was not robust enough to allow us to indulge all of our travel urges, not to mention the AF’s desire to keep my husband close to base.

Now that I’ve read A Valley to Die For, I feel as though a void has been at least partially filled. Ms. Nehring‘s descriptions of the valley where Carrie and her friends live are enticing to anyone with an interest in a mountain environment and I could easily visualize Carrie’s surroundings. The beauty of the Ozarks comes through with all the peace and serenity, as well as the natural dangers, that are to be found there.

As for the characters who live in the valley, I have to say I wouldn’t mind calling them neighbors. There is a great deal to be said in favor of rural or small town living although, in my younger days, the very prospect of moving to a town with a  population of about 1,500 pretty much curdled my brain. Anyway, folks like Carrie and Henry and their friends are a likeable bunch and their zeal to stop the quarry is a natural reaction to the threat to their beautiful valley. And wouldn’t it be nice to know that someone would actually notice—without being annoyingly nosy—if your routine changed or you didn’t answer the phone or you didn’t show up for a meeting? Yes, I like these people and I like the way they look out for each other. Oh, and I’m in love with FatCat.

As for the mystery, it’s a good one without being overly elaborate. I had my suspicions early on about who the killer might be and, as it turned out, I was right but that certainly didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story. I had to get to the reveal before knowing for sure and other reviewers have said they didn’t figure it out early so this debut mystery was certainly nicely done. I’m looking forward to catching up with the rest of the series.

Now all I have to do is figure out a way to get to the Ozarks to see them for myself.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2012.

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