by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Killer Characters, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Living in Nashville and with a guitar-playing father, it would have been impossible for Campbell Hale to not be a country music fan. So when she hears that her attorney friend Doug Elliot is picking up six paintings from the home of legendary music icon Jake Miller, Campbell of course begs to go along. While Doug is off retrieving the paintings the widow bought—but never paid for—from Kenneth Elliot’s Mockingbird Gallery, Campbell pokes around the legendary estate. It’s how she happens to accidentally walk into the bedroom of elderly Hazel Miller, making Campbell the last person to see her before the widow is discovered dead the next day.
While Doug admonishes Campbell to mind her own business, she can’t help but be curious and feel that she should report what she saw to someone. That someone turns out to be Detective Sam Davis, but when police seem to consider it a natural death, Campbell is still unable to leave it alone. A young man she saw demanding to enter the Miller mansion has Campbell exploring the Nashville music scene, where Jake’s adopted-but-possibly-biological grandson is an up-and-coming performer. It’s a pleasant enough task, although Campbell never expected it to lead to threats on the phone or an attack of vandalism. Perhaps Campbell should have stuck juggling the impractical and often implausible demands of clients as a travel agent near Nashville’s Music Row.
Whenever you read a winner of St. Martin’s Malice Domestic Competition for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel, you know that you are in for a delightful and original new series. The behind-the-scenes glimpses into Nashville’s country music world and the unique city setting are highlights of the novel. One of the greatest challenges of introducing an amateur detective is making her investigation seem plausible, and here the author achieves this by linking the death to a celebrity. Campbell is pushy and nosy, but so is most of Nashville, considering that the case involves a much-lauded musician who himself died forty years past. Campbell herself is in a state of flux, and seeing the very engaging and resilient heroine cope with her challenges is a joy.
More than one reader will be able to relate to Campbell as she approaches the time when she and her parents transfer responsibility to one another. Just as interesting, and frustrating, is Campbell’s relationship with Doug, who constantly pulls away the moment she begins to feel secure. For Campbell, the chemistry and affection they have are worth never broaching the topic of commitment or even making a suggestion of wanting more. The mysteries of Jake Miller’s early death, his numerous liaisons, and the fate of Hazel Miller are compelling, but what is truly entertaining is following the adventures of such a delightful new lead. Campbell’s fallback of coping with humor and positive outlook make her a heroine readers will love. This debut series has set a high bar for itself, and the next installment can’t come soon enough.
To enter to win a copy of Killer Characters, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “killer,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 20, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.
Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:
You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.