Thursday, June 30, 2022

Book Review - The Hotel Nantucket; Elin Hilderbrand


The Hotel Nantucket; Elin Hilderbrand
Little Brown & Company - 2022
(library audio download - 12 hours 27 min.) 
 ( Erin Bennett narrator- very good)

It wouldn't be summer without an Elin Hilderbrand book set on Nantucket island.  

The Hotel Nantucket, once a top hotel of the Gilded Age has long fallen into a state of disrepair.  Recently purchased by London billionaire Xavier Darling, a man who knows what he wants and this includes a total facelift and a hotel that has all the bells and whistles.  His goal is to get a rare "5 Keys" rating from Shirley Carpenter, a hotel blogger who discreetly visits and reviews various hotels. Lisbeth Keaton is hired as the new general manager and, she has a backstory she is trying to forget. The hotel will also have a handsome celebrity chef and free mini bar to name just a few of the its perks.  Oh, and let us not forget the ghost of Grade Hadley, the young maid, who died tragically in a fire there in 1922; she still haunts the fourth floor.

This novel has some great characters with interesting back stories. There is even an eight year old guest named Wanda Marsh, a young girl obsessed with mysteries and Nancy Drew books.  She cause a bit of havoc while doing some sleuthing there.  The author also include references to old songs and a "must do list" for visitors vacationing on the island.  A worthy summer read but, my favorite is still 28 Summers!

Rating - 4/5 stars (library audio download)

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Book Review - The Midcoast; Adam White


The Midcoast; Adam White
Hogarth - 2022

The Midcoast is a debut novel that opens in small coastal town of Damariscotta, Maine.  Andrew is a writing instructor and lacrosse coach who returns with his family to the area where he grew up to settle down.  The story opens with a lavish outdoor reception for the Amherst College lacrosse team hosted by Steph and Ed Thatch at their enviable coastal home.  The Thatches daughter Allie attends Amherst College and their son EJ is a local cop.  Andrew wonders how Ed, a high school dropout and the son of a lobster fisherman could rise to their current status of achieving the American dream and more?  His wife Step is the unofficial town mayor as well. As Andrew does a little snooping indoors while the event is taking place, he uncovers some disturbing photos and with a little investigative work, the reader will soon begin to understand what has been going on.

This novel got off to a rather slow start but, I quickly found myself totally engrossed with the crime drama elements of it all.  I found myself on the edge of my seat often with an uncomfortable feeling as I read.  The descriptions of midcoast Maine and Amherst College, Amherst, MA seemed accurately portrayed and, I thought the author did a great job building the suspense of the Thatch story.  I was really glad I read this one, it was so hard to put down even though some of the characters needed a bit more depth. Recommended

Rating - 4/5 stars

(NOTE: the eGalley download was sent to me by the publisher (Hogarth) in exchange for my unbiased review.)

Book Review - Legacy; Nora Roberts


Legacy; Nora Roberts
Macmillan Audio - 2021 - January Lavoy - Narrator
(Library Loan - 14+ hours)

I was craving something different so I decided to try a Nora Roberts standalone novel.  This one was a combo family saga, crime drama with a tad of romance thrown in. The audio, although a bit long, was excellent - narrated by January Lavoy.

The story centers around the Rizzo family: mother, Lina and her daughter Adrian. When Adrian was only eight years old, her biological father, who wasn't a part of her life, forced his way into the family home and almost killed his own daughter.  Fortunately, he died during the incident instead.

Lina is a hardworking, self-made yoga and fitness influencer with a work schedule that doesn't allow much together time for her and young daughter Adrian.  Luckily, Adrian has loving grandparents who love having Adrian in their lives and take her in to live with them. The couple owns an Italian Restaurant and Pizza shop.  As Adrian grow up she follows in her mother's footsteps by starting her own fitness brand company.  Life is good until something unsettling begins happening around Valentine's Day one year. Adrian begins receiving notes and poems from what seems to be a mysterious stalker. The individual, we later learn, has several targets.

Adrian was a great character that was easy to root for.  As with other Nora Roberts books, there was a the slow build of a romantic relationship with Raylan, who Adrian had a crush on as a child when she lived in Maryland with her grandparents. Raylan is another wonderful character who hadn't had an easy time in recent years. I enjoyed reading about the two of them.  This was a pleasant surprise and I enjoyed it enough to add Nightwork, Nora Robert's latest book to my library reserve's list.  

Rating - 4/5 stars

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Vacationland; Meg Mitchell Moore


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read soon.  This one comes from my (20) Books of Summer list.

Vacationland; Meg Mitchell Moore
William Morrow - 2022



The Greyhound from Altoona, Pennsylvania, to Rockland, Maine takes twelve hours and thirty-three minutes with three stops, all of them where you don't necessarily want to use the bathroom but may find you have no choice.  Even so, the first part of the journey isn't too bad--Kristie Turner has two seats to herself.  But in New Haven, six hours into the journey, she gains a seat mate in the form of a sixty-something named Bob who wants to talk with Kristie about the granddaughter he is going to meet for the first time, and also about abiding love for Creedence Clearwater Revival. Never mind that the bus left Altoona at eleven at night, so by this point it's five in the morning.

Can't you see I'm tire? Kristie wants to say. Can't you see I'm grieving? But, of course, Bob can't see that.  Grief is not something you wear on a vest, like a Brownie patch.  She rolls up her sweatshirt to form a pillow and angels her body away from Bob's, falling deeply asleep.

What do you think? Read More or pass?

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Book Review - Lucy By the Sea; Elizabeth Strout


Lucy By the Sea; Elizabeth Strout
Random House - 9/2022

Even though this book will not be officially released until September 2022, any new book by Elizabeth Strout in my hands always seems to show how little self-control I have.  

In this story Lucy (My Name if Lucy Barton), (Anything is Possible) and (Oh, William!) is convinced by her ex-husband William to pack a bag and flee her apartment in New York City with him, just prior to COVID shutting down the city. Lucy, a writer, was scheduled to leave for Europe on a book tour, but William, a scientist has convinced her to do what he says.  The couple has been divorced for years but have remained friends and have two adult daughters.  William has rented a house by the sea in Maine from an old friend and, he has reconnected with a sister that until the last few years he never knew that he had. Although living together after being divorced for many years takes some getting used to, the couple soon fall into some comfortable routines.  We also get brief references to some of the characters from her previous books like Olive Kitteridge and Bill Burgess and, insight into their lives of the couple's two daughters.

As always Elizabeth Strout writes with emotion and her characters have so much depth. The author has a way of telling a story that always seems to make me think about how my own life has played out.  Marriage, the joys and worries that come with parenthood even when your children are grown and on their own.  The pride we feel from the accomplishments, what we have achieved personally and professionally, and, those things that we might have tweaked a bit if there was a chance at a do-over.  The Maine setting and isolation from family and friends that many of us felt prior to a vaccine becoming available was palpable in this story.  Although this book is part of a series, it could be read as stand alone -- I don't suggest it though as the build up of the series is really what makes each novel special. Elizabeth Strout always manages to hit all the right notes, I'm already looking forward to her 2023 offering (I hope.) 

RATING - 5/5 stars

NOTE: An eGalley was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Book Review - The Foundling; Ann Leary


The Foundling; Ann Leary
Simon & Schuster Audio - 2022
Scribner/Marysue Ricci Books - 2022

Mary Engle was raised in a Catholic orphanage when her mother died shortly after her birth. Her best friend there was Lillian Henning.  

Fast forward to 1927, Mary is now eighteen and has been hired  as a secretary by Ann Vogel, a psychiatrist she met at a lecture. The brilliant Dr, Agnes Vogel runs the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age.  She believes that weak, feeble minded women are preyed upon by unscrupulous men and should be confined in an institution where they can do farm labor to earn their room and board.  Unfortunately, many of the women at this institution were not feebleminded, instead they were dumped there by spouses and parents if they were deemed difficult or in some cases unmarried and expecting a child.  The institution is located in a remote area and conditions at the institution were horrific to say the least.

One of the women at Nettleton is Mary's former friend Lilian Henning. She has been confined there for having the child of a black man who she was not married to.  Lillian begs Mary to help free her.

Mary was a frustrating character at times who failed to see what was going on before her very eyes. Quite naive to say the least, I gave her a pass at times because of what she went though as a child. The novel is a fictionalized account of Laurelton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age which was located in central PA. 

The story was frightening at times forcing you to think about what went on back in the day when women were deemed unfit to have children.  We learn about eugenics -- selective breeding and removing undesirables from the race, forced sterilizations and the prohibition of mixed races from marrying as well as individuals with mental and physical disabilities. 

I thought the author did a good job getting her story across.  This is my third book in the last few years that has focused on the treatment of women in the 1920s. It was disheartening to see women considered as mere chattel back in the day regardless if they were rich or poor. I originally started the audiobook, read by Laura Benanti, but,  I then switched to the eBook which I preferred.

Rating - 4/5 stars

NOTE:  I received an audio and eBook download from the publisher at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Book Review - Tin Camp Road; Ellen Airgood


Tin Camp Road; Ellen Airgood
Riverhead Books - 2021

I have to admit, it was the title and cover art that had this book scream "summer read" to me.

The premise of this novel is a struggling single mother trying to provide a decent live for her 10 year old daughter while vowing never to leave her roots in Gallion, Michigan.  Laurel works as a maid at a local motel and she and her daughter Skye live a no frills life.  Skye seems more mature than her age but, she is often left alone unsupervised when Laurel picks up an extra shift.  Mother and daughter argue and their relationship is one of sacrifice.  When their landlord notifies them that they must move as he has decided to convert their cabin into a more lucrative seasonal rental on the upper peninsula, Laurel and Skye must pack up and find another place to stay, which turns out to be more difficult than anticipated.

The author writes about life in the area where she grew up and where she worked as a waitress for nearly 20 years.  While I loved the setting of this book and its depictions of small town lake life, I found it almost painfully hard to get through at times -- it took me over a week. The mother makes some poor choices that are not in the daughter's best interest and even has CPS intervening.  There were too many unnecessary details and the book had an overall unfocused feel. This one started off well but, it ended up disappointing me. 

RATING - 2.5/5 stars

Book Review - A Long Petal of the Sea; Isabel Allende


A Long Petal of the Sea; Isabel Allende
Ballantine Books - 2020

This title was our book group pick for June and, although initially, I didn't think I wanted to read about the Spanish Civil this summer, in the end I was mostly, but not entirely, happy that I did.  My book group definitely helps me to branch out and try books I might have passed on.

The story begins in 1938 and ends in 1994, taking readers from Spain to France, Chile and Venezuela and ending in Chile. From the Spanish Civil war and political upheaval which includes a 1973 coup in Chile where the democratic government elected to power is overthrown.  It's also a bit of a love story in the midst of war and political crises.

The writing is good but, the translation felt a bit off at times.  I thought the author took great pains in getting all the real life historical details just right, as this is in part based on a true story. However, I felt that the characters themselves lacked depth and emotion and more focus should have been given to the characters themselves.  The portrayal of refugee camps was hard to read about and, I thought the author did a good job demonstrating the impact of war on its people.

Our group had mixed reactions to this book, a few really liked it, a few disliked and others had similar issues to mine.  Have you read this one? What did you think?

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Hotel Nantucket; Elin Hilderbrand


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read soon.  This one comes from my (20) Books of Summer list.

The Hotel Nantucket; Elin Hilderbrand
Little Brown and Company - 2022


The Cobblestone Telegraph

Nantucket Island is known for its cobblestone streets and red brick sidewalks, cedar-shingled cottages and rose-colored arches, long stretches of golden beach and refreshing Atlantic breezes--and it's also known for residents who adore a juicy piece of gossip (which hot landscaper has been romancing which local real estate mogul's wife--that kind of thing!)  However, none of us are quite prepared for the tornado of rumors that rolls up Main Street, along Orange Street, and around the rotary out to Sconset when we learn that London-based billionaire. Zavier Darling is investing thirty million dollars in the crumbling eyesore that is the Hotel Nantucket.

Half of us are intrigued. (We have long wondered if someone would try to fix it up.)

The other half are skeptical.  (The place, quite frankly, seems beyond saving.)

For me, it's not summer without an Elin Hilderband and Nancy Thayer book on my list - my love of Nantucket Island is always satisfied.

What do you think, read more or pass?

Monday, June 20, 2022

Brief Book Review - Cloud Cuckoo Land; Anthony Doerr


Cloud Cuckoo Land; Anthony Doerr
Combo - Read/ Listen (mostly read)
Scribner and Simon & Schuster Audio - 2021
(audio narrated by Marin Ireland and Simon Jones - very good)

It took me a while to wrap my head around what turned out to be an impressive story. I started with the audio book which is expertly narrated but, I quickly decided this one would work better for me in print because of the concentration required.

This expansive novel is almost like five separate stories about five characters in different centuries.  From medieval Constantinople to modern day Idaho and even on an intergenerational starship on a 592 year journey. Each of the characters, some elderly and some young, becomes fascinated by an ancient Greek manuscript called "Cloud Cuckoo Land" which was believed to have been written by Antonius Diogenes. As the story plays out we also learn more about "Cloud Cuckoo Land." The chapters of this novel are short and the stories that go back and forth between centuries are beautifully written and sometimes a little sad as we read about the struggles and hardships of individuals along the way.  The way everything comes together in the end was not only amazing but, it was incredibly moving as well.  

If you are ready to put in some effort, I think you will be rewarded by this one.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

NOTE: I was provided a copy of both the eGalley and the audio download from the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Sunday Update - What I've Been Reading


This has been a rough week for a variety of reasons. I only left the house for appointments, mine or the hubs and, although I wasn't active at least I was able to relax and listen to audio books.  This week means several appointments. I do hope to make our book group meeting on Wednesday and lunch with the group beforehand. We read - A Long Petal of the Sea; Isabel AllendeOh and my DIL has had COVID since Thursday but, so far my son and granddaughter are okay. 

We did go to a local vintage car show held locally yesterday for a bit - How's this for a paint job on this vintage truck?

Finished Reading

3/5 stars

3.5/5 stars

no review yet
3.5/5 stars

Currently Reading or Listening to:

(Tin Camp Road - midway point - it's a slow moving story but I really like it.)

The Foundling; Ann Leary - (almost done -  perhaps tonight - very good)

After Cath -Read-Warbler logged about enjoying several of Nora Roberts suspense novels, I wanted to give her a try after a long hiatus.  Legacy, an audio book with January Lavoy as narrator is excellent - at about the 38% mark.)

Still Need to review

How was your week? Read any good books?

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Brief Book Review - It All Comes Down to This; Therese Anne Fowler


It All Comes Down to This; Therese Anne Fowler
Macmillan Audio - 2022 - Library download
(Barrie Krenik - narrator - very good)

This is a story about family and sisterhood that had great potential but, fizzled out fast for me.

The story begins with the not unexpected death of Marti Geller who was dealing with cancer.  Marti was a planner and had all her final wishes clearly spelled out with few surprises. Her modest estate is to be split equally among her three daughters: Beck, Claire and Sophie.  One puzzling provision is that the Maine family cottage must be updated and sold.  The sisters do not understand why and are not looking forward to selling the property.  The sisters are  quite different and not close and each is dealing with their own issues.  When a southerner named CJ Reynolds enters the story as an interested buyer for the Maine cottage, things get a bit more tense and interesting.

It All Comes Down to This, is a character driven novel which I usually love.  Unfortunately, for the life of me, I could not connect with any of the characters. They felt flat and their issues uninteresting to me,  This was a story about family secrets, past betrayals and regrets. It had  a convenient ending as well. I'm giving this one a generous 3/5 stars but, it clearly isn't a book I can recommend.  Other readers may feel differently.  Barrie Krenik, a favorite audio book narrator, couldn't even help save this one for me even though she did a great job.

Rating - 3/5 stars

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Brief Book Review - What Happened to the Bennetts? Lisa Scottoline


G.P. Putnam and Penguin Audio - 2022
(Edoardo Ballerini - narrator - excellent - 10 hours 15 minutes)

The Bennetts are a family who live in PA. The father Jason, is a court reporter, his wife Lucinda, a photographer and they have (2) children Allison, a teen and Ethan around ten.  One evening on the way home from a hockey game in their Mercedes, they are carjacked and shots fly. One of the carjackers is shot but Allison also takes a bullet and later dies at the hospital.  When the FBI shows up at the Bennett's house the following day, it quickly becomes clear that this was not a random incident.  Why would what seems like a typical American family be the target of an attack at the hands of organized crime?

This is a thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. The audio narrator Edoardo Ballerini did a wonderful job in keeping the listener focused.  I was surprised to find this tragic family story turn into a political thriller.  The story is told from the POV of Jason and there is a lot of action involved as the story moves along.  I did find myself want to hear more from Lucinda and Ethan whose lives were turned upside down and were still grieving with the loss of their daughter and sister.  Still a good political thriller with plenty of surprises to be had.

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

(NOTE:  The audio download was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Tin Camp Road; Ellen Airgood


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read soon.  This one comes from my (20) Books of Summer list.

Tin Camp Road; Ellen Airgood
Riverhead Books - 2021


Laurel Hill knew that a part of her would die if she ever had to leave Lake Superior.  Its lapping was a heartbeat, one connected to her own.  Without the sight and sound of it landing onshore and departing again, the turning of the water as constant as the earth's orbit, her soul would fade and tear, a sheet left on on the line too long.

What do you think read more or pass?

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Weekend Update and Book Reviews - A Rose Named Peace: How Francis Meilland Created a Flower of Hope for a World at War; Barbara Carroll Roberts - Celia Planted a Garden: Story of Celia Thaxter and Her Island; Phyllis Root & Gary D. Schmidt

Barbara Carroll Roberts  (Ill. Bagram Ibatoulline)
Candlewick Press - 2022

Anyone who has an affinity for roses has probably called the "Peace Rose" one of their favorites.  Francis Meilland was born in France in the early 19th century.  As a young boy he enjoyed gardening and roses in particular. Experimenting with cross-pollination and grafting, he was able to cultivate a new variety around the time World War II broke out. He managed to send clippings to growers around the world and some six years later he learned from many his efforts were a huge success.  "Peace was the name given to it by a rose grower named Robert Pyle from The United States.

This was such a lovely book and, isn't "peace" around the world something we need more of?  I loved this book for many reasons: wonderful true story, loveliest of watercolor illustrations and, a book that reminded me of my mother who had a gorgeous rose garden--(the "peace rose" was always her favorite.

A lovely book that is not just for children.

Rating - 5/5 star
Another lovely summertime book that tells the story of Celia Thaxter a 19th century poet, painter and avid gardener. She grew up in Portsmouth, NH and later relocated with her family to White Island, off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine when her father became the keeper of the lighthouse there.  When Celia was 12 her father built a resort hotel on Apple Dove Island with worldwide visitors which include Hawthorne and Longfellow and Whittier. Celia played a large role in the gardening design which included some 70+ varieties of flowers while continuing to work on her poetry and painting.

This would make a great addition for nature lovers and poetry fans. The pastel illustrations evocative of the summer landscape are lovely. I also enjoyed samples of Celia's poetry. Her personal story was interesting and her love of gardening, nature art and poetry share within this book gives readers a feel for why spending summer in Maine draws people from all over the world - a magical place to visit.

RATING - 5/5 stars

NOTE: Both of these books were sent to me by Candlewick Press in exchange for my unbiased reviews.

Still Need to Review

5/5 stars - hated to see it end

so different - took a lot of brain power in an off week
4/5 stars

Currently Listening To

pretty good at 24% mark

pretty good at 54% mark - Barrie Krenik is a great narrator

Share your week by posting a link on Deb's Blog HERE

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Book Review - Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food and Love; Kim Fay


Penguin Random House Audio - (2022) 3 hours 46 min
Narrated by Kim Fay, Kimberly Farr, Cassandra Campbell, Mark Bramhall
 and Maggi-Meg Reed - all very good

I saw this book mentioned on Mary and JoAnn's Blogs and thought it sounded like a book I needed after a few so so reads. My library had the audio immediately available so I downloaded it. It was delightful.

Set in the 1960's Love & Saffron is an epistolary novel that felt like non-fiction.  Joan Bergstrom is a 27 year old woman and food writer living in LosAngeles. Imogene Fortier is a 59 year old magazine columnist who lives with her husband near Seattle.  On a whim Joan sends Imogene a letter with a package of saffron enclosed and an unexpected friendship develops.

This was an ode to strong women. It was a great escape book to listen to and, the large cast of narrators for a relatively short audiobook, kept me engaged from beginning to end. I loved the references to 1960s events like the Beatles, the Kennedy assassination, civil rights, and feminist authors like Helen Gurley Brown.  This is one of the books that would make a great gift for a friend or relative who enjoys food and cooking.  Try it!

Rating - 4.5/5 stars
(library download)

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros; The Foundling, Ann Leary


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read soon. 

The Foundling; Ann Leary
Scribner / Marysue Rucci Books - 2022


I've been told that my mother had a wonderful sense of humor.  Also that she was pretty.  But most people recall her wit first, and her easy laughter, and because of this I've always had a better sense of how she felt than how she looked.  She must have been happy most of the time if she found so many things to say and laugh about.  She died when I was an infant, so I have no memory of her.  After I moved to my Aunt Kate's house, I'd hear her talking with friends about my mother and me, usually in hushed tones after I'd left the room.

"She's a somber little thing," somebody would say. Or, "She's so shy; she certainly hasn't Louisa's high spirits."

What do you think, read more or pass? 

Monday, June 6, 2022

Book Review - The Book Woman's Daughter; Kim Michele Richardson


The Book Woman's Daughter; Kim Michele Richardson
Sourcebooks  - 2022

Last year our book group read and discussed The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and most everyone loved the story.  As a result I couldn't wait to read book #2 in the series: The Book Woman's Daughter.

Set in Kentucky (15) years after book #1 ends, Honey Lovett is the (16) year old daughter of Cussy Mary Carter Lovett who worked as a Packhorse Librarian in 1930s Appalachia, delivering books to eager readers upon her mule Junia.  Cussy was a bluet, a blue-skinned woman with a condition called methemoglobinemia. Cussy married a white man and their marriage earned them a prison sentence for miscegenation.  Honey's parents prepared her for what they feared was to come and sent her away with Junia, the mule,  to keep her out of orphanages until she reached adulthood.  As luck would have it Honey is hired to take over her mother's packhorse job and like her mother she is doing something she loves but, not everyone is thrilled when she arrives with the books. 

I thought the author did a good job with this sequel and although this could be read as a standalone, I do recommend that readers try the first book of the series. IMO, the first book gives a lot of good background information about the packhorse library program and the people of Appalachia as well.  This book was a good read with a few nice minor characters but, I liked the first book a bit better. Like the first book this story covered several tough issues: poverty, domestic violence, prejudice and illiteracy.  I thought the ending was satisfying.

NOTE: I borrowed this book from my public library

RATING - 4/5 stars

Friday, June 3, 2022

Book Review - Lightning Strike; William Kent Krueger


Lightning Strike; William Kent Krueger
Atria Books - 2021

Lightning Strike is a story takes us back to 1963 when Cork O'Connor was a young boy of twelve.  At the time his father Liam was the town sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota. It's the summer when Cork with his friend Jorge are exploring the woods as Boy Scouts on a camping trip when they find the body of a man hanging from a tree near Lightning Strike.  The dead man is one they recognize, Big John Manydeeds, the uncle of a friend, a man who had been struggling with alcohol addiction.  At first glance it appears to be a suicide but, the Ojibwe people refuse believe this from Liam,  a white man with Irish ancestry. Liam married a woman whose mother was an Ojibwe woman and he was always considered an outsider to members of the tribe.  While Liam works on the investigation, young Cork begins a search for his own clues and his findings indicate that Big John's death may not be a suicide as originally believed.

This was a well crafted coming of age mystery with well developed characters and a number of supporting characters as well.  I anticipate these characters will surface again in other series offerings. I especially enjoyed the father and son relationship between Liam and Cork. I did think young Cork seemed a little too wise beyond his years. The Native American culture was interesting and yet sad to read about and the racism which existed in 1963 unfortunately hasn't changed all that much over the last 50+ years.  There are plenty of surprises that pop up in this story and the historical details were quite fascinating.

I'm a little late getting into this mystery series featuring Cork O'Connor. I did love the author's book, Ordinary Grace which I read for my book group.   This book is actually a prequel to the Cork O'Connor character and gives the newcomers to the series insight into how he got to become a small town Minnesota sheriff. I look forward to other series books.

RATING - 4/5 stars

NOTE: (An eGalley was sent to me by Atria and Edelweiss in exchange for my unbiased review.)