I first discovered Heather Day Gilbert’s writing through her book God’s Daughter, the first in her Vikings of the New World Saga, which I thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog. When I found out her next book was taking the leap from historical fiction to contemporary mystery, I was curious and eager to see what this one would be like. I found it highly enjoyable, sharing some of the best features of the author’s earlier work, including vivid settings and a strong and relatable heroine.
About the Book (From the author’s Web site):
Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her.
But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox – a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting – Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer… or the next victim might be Tess herself.
Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains Series.
Just like in God’s Daughter, Miranda Warning features settings vividly described with just the right details to put you in the scene with the characters without bogging down the action. In this case the setting is modern day West Virginia… and West Virginia from forty years ago.
Each chapter features a short segment from the past, followed by more lengthy scenes set in the present. Tess Spencer is trying to figure out just what happened in the past before her friend Miranda makes what could be a dangerous mistake in the present. Meanwhile, someone or something is threatening her and her investigation. I thought the format worked very well, with the details from the past being revealed at just the right times to keep suspense high and complement the modern day investigation. The mystery and suspense elements definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.
Then there’s the strong and spunky heroine. I really liked Tess, especially her dry sense of humor, and I found myself relating to her in a number of areas. Loved her line about preferring a throwing star to practice her ninja skills. She’s friendly and down-to-earth, but she keeps a knife or gun in her pocket just in case. I have a feeling I’d really enjoy hanging out with her … if she were a real person … except maybe for the danger she seems to attract. With that in mind, it’s probably safer for me to just continue reading the series as it’s published.
Faith played a relatively small part in this story, but I enjoyed what was there. Miranda makes an interesting point when she compares Tess’s situation to another character’s, saying, “She wouldn’t go to church or read her Bible. So her views of God got warped, like wet floorboards.” (Page 273. I loved the wet floorboards comparison so I had to include that quote.) Anyway, I’m curious to see how Tess’s faith might develop over the course of the series.
A big thank you to the author for providing me with an electronic review copy for purposes of this review.