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Book Author: Samantha Jayne Allen

HARD RAIN by Samantha Jayne Allen: Book Review

Religious hypocrisy, alcoholism, infidelity, and murder–in the small town of Garrett, Texas, there’s certainly a lot going on.  And newly minted private investigator Annie McIntyre is in the midst of it.

Annie has recently returned to her hometown after four years at college, and she’s joined McIntyre Investigations, a firm run by her grandfather Leroy and his partner Mary-Pat Zimmerman.  The first case she investigated had a successful conclusion, and now her childhood friend Bethany Richter has come to her for help.

Two weeks earlier, Bethany had nearly been swept away by the incredible flood that ravaged Garrett.  The river waters rose to their highest level in history, destroying pastures, damaging roads, overturning gravestones, and leaving at least six people dead.  Bethany and her husband John David, an evangelical preacher, had been staying with another minister and his wife at an old cabin to celebrate Bethany’s birthday.

When the storm broke John David was visiting an elderly parishioner in the hospital, but the other couple was in the cabin.  Pulled outside by the strength of the water, Michael and his wife Kendall were swept away and drowned, but Bethany was saved by a man’s voice telling her to swim to a nearby tree.  As she does so, she sees the man being carried out of her sight by the swirling waters.

Now, still recovering from the flood and the deaths of Michael and Kendall, she hires Annie to find the person who saved her life.  She’s been to the sheriff’s office and the fire department, both having searched the river by air and boats, but they found no trace of the man and appear somewhat disbelieving of her story.

Even Bethany’s husband is telling her to put this behind her and move on with her life, but she says she can’t.  “If I can’t thank him ’cause he’s gone, I need to speak to his family.  I need to tell them how sorry I am.”

Annie takes the case somewhat reluctantly, because she’s not certain that Bethany isn’t mistaken.  Bethany describes the man as “white…long brown hair…looked like the paintings you see of Jesus.”  That description, Annie thinks, probably didn’t help her case when she was telling it to the authorities, but instead it made them believe she was still suffering emotionally and wasn’t fully rational.  However, their friendship goes back a long way, so she promises to do her best to find the rescuer.

Samantha Jayne Allen’s first mystery, Pay Dirt Road, won the Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery Set in the Southwest.  She brings the area to life in her second novel as well.  Hard Rain again features Annie McIntyre as she tries to prove herself personally and professionally in both McIntyre Investigations and Garrett.  She’s smart, determined, and a heroine to root for.

You can read more about the author at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.