Fans of JoAnna Carl’s Chocoholic Mysteries, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Mysteries with Recipes, Kasey Michaels’ Sunshine Girls Capers and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman will enjoy Where the Bodies Lie Buried by R.J. Minnick as much as I do.
Where the Bodies Lie Buried is the first book in the MacKenzie Wilder Classic Boat Mysteries. Mackenzie, Mackie to her truest friends, is easy to identify with. She was the smart girl with the frizzy hair with a broken home and no boyfriends back in school. Now, she’s a middle-aged childless widow who used her late husband’s life insurance to become a family doctor. Her dream is to go home to rural New York State and restore her parents’ farm, along with some classic wooden boats.
Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to restore a farm once it’s been designated a crime scene, with no resolution in sight. Skeletons, whether tucked away in a closet, a trunk, the medical examiner’s office, around the farm or all-too-human memories, have a way of complicating things. Particularly if your character of a dad, who’s presumed guilty of the 20yo crime, is no longer alive to defend himself. Add a divorced cop and a brilliant wealthy outsider competing for your attentions, as well as a baseball mom and her cousin blaming you for yet another party’s ancient crimes, and you’ve got Mackie’s welcome home. She could take the easy way out and just leave, but would you?
At first, I found the end of every fifth chapter to be a natural pause. However, from the end of Chapter 16 to the finish, it’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller. The cover art could be a bit better, maybe a photo of an old farm house, barn and flowery fields with the burnt orange boat graphic used in the chapter headings centered above like a publishing imprint, all on a white background, possibly with a different font style and size. At the moment, the words on the cover seem to overwhelm it. There are a handful of punctuation and other minor typos that Word would have caught, and one repeated error that it would have missed (planning versus planing, regarding wood), but they don’t interfere with the quality of the story. I only noticed them as an English major does. Character development, setting and plot are as flawless as the shine on Mackie’s prized wooden boats. I’m looking forward to diving into the next book in the series, Sweet Corn, Fields, Forever.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. The above opinions are my own.
UPDATE 7.9.2014: I’ve just been informed by the author that a) the first draft of book three is completed and b) new copies of books one and two are forthcoming, complete with proofreading and professional cover art. It may be a little while, but they are coming.