Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Posts Tagged ‘small-town police chief’

ANGELS BURNING by Tawni O’Dell: Book Review

Dove Carnahan (Named after the soap.  Seriously.) has been the chief of police in her rural home town for more than a decade.  It’s a place where the police work usually consists of dealing with domestic violence, DWIs, and minor vandalism.  But a call from a childhood friend brings Dove to Campbell’s Run, a deserted part of town, where she finds the burned body of a teenage girl lying in an abandoned mine pit.

The following day the girl is identified as Camio Truly, one of the members of the dysfunctional Truly clan.  Or should that really be one of the members of the Truly dysfunctional clan?  Camio is one of five children; the oldest brother died after running a red light on his motorcycle while drunk, another died after falling off a railroad trestle while drunk, and a sister is an unmarried sixteen-year-old with an infant.  The youngest brother isn’t quite old enough yet to get into trouble.

Camio was the only one with any ambition or drive in the family.  She received straight As in school and planned to go to college, two things that inspired jealousy and disdain within her family circle.  She also had a boyfriend whom her mother had forbidden to enter their house, probably because he came from the “right side” of the tracks.

There’s no obvious suspect once the boyfriend’s alibi is verified, and there appears to be no motive for any of Camio’s family members.  Dove is working hard on the case, along with the Pennsylvania state police, when she’s sidetracked by two events in her own family.  First there’s the reappearance of one of her mother’s lovers, the man Dove and her sister Neely accused of killing their mother.  He has just been released from jail after thirty-five years, convicted by the sisters’ testimony.

Second is another reappearance, that of Dove’s younger brother Champ.  He left town immediately after he graduated from high school, about ten years after their mother died.   Apart from a yearly post card saying he was okay, neither Dove or Neely has heard from him.  Now he’s back with his nine-year-old son Mason, with no explanation as to where he’s been or what he’s been doing all these years.

Angels Burning is a starkly powerful novel about the ways in which family members can destroy each other.   In addition to a terrific plot, what makes this book so special is the way Tawni O’Dell makes the reader understand why people do these things to each other.  And just when you think a character has no redeeming qualities or perhaps has some unexpected good ones, the author turns things on their head and makes you think differently.  Quite a talent.

You can read more about Tawni O’Dell at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.

THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS by Julia Spencer-Fleming: Book Review

A honeymoon spent in a one room log cabin, on a frozen lake, locked in by the perfect storm.  That’s where Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne find themselves in this eighth novel in Julia Spencer-Fleming’s clerical/police series.

Clare Fergusson is the minister at St. Albans Episcopal Church and is newly married to Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne.   Actually, she’s a little too newly married for some of the parishioners and the church board, being five months pregnant after only three months of marriage.  There are those who think this is a blot on the church and its ministers, and Clare has been offered the option of resigning from St. Albans rather than facing a disciplinary panel.  If she resigns she would be free to lead another church in the diocese; if she’s fired, she won’t be allowed to do so.  She is given a week to make her decision.

At the same time, Russ is informed that the Millers Kill police force may be disbanded in an effort to save the town money and its duties taken over by the New York State Police.

Each keeping her/his secret from the other, Clare and Russ are determined to have their honeymoon as planned.  But three factors complicate this, and the three combine to make the plot of Through the Evil Days.

First is the disappearance of young Mikayla Johnson.  The foster home she was living in was set on fire, killing the girl’s foster parents, but Mikayla’s body wasn’t found.  Her situation is desperate because she is on life-saving drugs following a liver transplant, and how would the person who abducted her know that or be able to obtain the medication Mikayla needs?

The second strand involves the Young Mothers Program run by St. Albans.  Amber, one of the young women in the group, asks Clare for a ride up to the lake cabin near where Clare and Russ will be honeymooning and where Amber and her baby are supposed to meet her boyfriend.  Clare and Russ duly deposit the mother and child there, but when they return to check on her, she and her child are no longer at the cabin.

The third part of the plot is the romantic involvement between Kevin Flynn and Hadley Knox, two members of the Millers Kill police force.  Their relationship has been a difficult one, and just when it appears to be going well, Hadley’s former husband comes to town with a devastating ultimatum that could wreck not only her plans with Kevin but her job as well.

Through the Evil Days is wonderful, as is every other book in this series.  Clare and Russ are strong, believable, and anxious to have a happy marriage, but life keeps throwing them curveballs.  And the relationship between Kevin and Hadley, in love but facing hurdles neither one knows how to handle, asks the question:  is love enough?

You can read more about Julia Spencer-Fleming at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at her web site.