Country music, love, jealousy, secrets, gambling and drugs weave a tangled, murderous web. Diminutive Dr. Mackenzie Wilder and her sweetheart, Detective Lt. Bryan Jamison, are back and hot on the trail. Someone’s killing the family and friends of country music star Tory McCloud, and framing her and her brand-new husband Jason Fields for the crimes. Can they catch the killer before something bad happens to Tory? And who the heck is joyriding in Mackie’s beloved antique wooden boats? Follow the trail from Nashville to rural upstate New York, Charlotte and Las Vegas in this gripping whodunit. Oh, you’re also invited to the quickie Vegas wedding and the Hallowe’en party back at Mackie’s place, so be sure to pack accordingly before you open the book.
In this second book of the Mackenzie Wilder Classic Boat series, the author alternates narration between Tory and Mackie in certain chapters. The complexity of the alternating narrative and the similar naming of the brother-sister country music duo lead to a few slips. In the last line of the Chapter 16 news story, for instance, the State Police are investigating the murder of the surviving sibling Tory, not the late Tyler. In Chapter 4, where Mackenzie is the narrator, there is an abrupt switch to Tory’s storytelling (using .pdf page numbers, it’s p. 25, para 7 in my editorial copy) for two sentences. There are also a few grammar items, like missing opening quotation marks, spaces between words and commas, but only a light sprinkling. The plot, characters, settings and development are all rock solid. I can’t help having read it three times now, and I’ll probably be back for more.
As stated in my previous review of Where the Bodies Lie Buried, I feel the cover art could be improved by substituting the chapter heading classic boat art for the photograph currently in place in the series header. Also, while the posters certainly pertain to the character’s passion for classic wooden boats, in thumbnails they don’t come across well. I can’t make out the words and art in the body unless I blow it up. However, the cowboy hat, guitar and treble clef are just enough to indicate the unique theme of this book. The ideas are good, they just need professional help. A crowdfunding campaign could take care of that and move these books to head and shoulders above the rest, where they rightfully belong.
I’m chompin’ at the bit for book three! C’mon, now…
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.
DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary editorial review copy. My opinions are my own.