by Kathleen Costa
Enjoy the review for A Dead Nephew, then find the details at the end to enter exciting and generous giveaways from the author and my friend Anna Celeste Burke. Click on the Rafflecopter link and follow directions. There is also a link to Amazon to purchase the book, if you’d like.
There are “A thousand ways the desert can kill you.” —Harry Essex, screenwriter (Quoted in A Dead Nephew)
Thirty-something Jessica Huntington is a lawyer in a relatively successful firm in the Desert Cities of California. Set among the seven desert cities from Palm Springs to Indio and nestled in the sand and scrub brush of the San Bernardino Mountains, she and her group of friends and colleagues referred to as the “Cat Pack,” assist in a variety of investigations, usually connected to one or more murders. Her amateur investigative talents are not appreciated by the local detective, George Hernandez, who feels she is more a nuisance than help…although her success rate proves him wrong. The crimes that usually fall into her lap are often very personal to someone, and in some way, personal to Jessica giving her an emotional motivation to uncover the truth, and as a lawyer, start the wheels of justice turning.
A Dead Nephew earns 5/5 Desert Palms…Compelling Entertainment!
Aunt Agnes Lugo, a well-respected member of the local tribal community, is convinced that the man convicted of the murder of her nephew, Sacramento Lugo, is innocent. The young man’s body was found stabbed in an isolated area of tribal land, but Jessica was suspicious of the immediate arrest and quick conviction of the victim’s friend, seventeen-year-old Louie Jacobs. After reading court records and police reports, she is concerned that Jacobs’s lawyer didn’t really mount an sufficient defense, then questions are raised about tribal business and connections to a strange figure provide reasonable doubt. She agrees with Aunt Agnes the young man was railroaded and decides to work on the incarnated man’s appeal.
Betsy Stark at Public Services has learned from Xavier Oliver, a well-worn homeless man, about a “Devil” of a man who is preying on many of the homeless living out in the desert. Jessica shares the information with Detective George Hernandez, and suggests he interview Mr. Oliver to see if the homeless man’s insights may be connected to Sacramento Lugo’s murder. However, he’s not entirely on board with the idea and questions Oliver’s credibility. He’s not always been a fan of Jessica’s and spews theories about it being a set up by the victim’s aunt to reopen the case. But, however you look at it, a two-legged predator is prowling the area…The Cleaner Man.
Wow! From the first revelation from the very worried Mr. Oliver, Anna Celeste Burke set readers onto a dramatic cozy adventure with a bit of police/lawyer procedural edge…rumors of a “white-hatted” stranger, stalkers in the periphery, and secrets the powerful will do anything to keep secret make it difficult to determine the true motive behind the murder. But “My friends are like me…as curious as cats.” and Jessica’s “gut feelings” are key to uncovering all, but not without some nail-biting personal peril! With a first-person narrative from Jessica’s perspective, her writing style uses descriptive language to paint a clear picture of the desert community and dialogue that keeps readers engaged in the emotions and providing insights into the characters’ personalities. The murder mystery and subsequent investigation were compelling and complex, and the “el hombre limpio” is scary; the details of Tahquitz legends, mysterious deaths, and a clash between tribal and state law enforcement were fascinating…and the dynamic between the “Cat Pack” and their interactions with law enforcement make for an extraordinary series. The final reveal, understanding, and the last scenes were just plain, “WOW!”
One of Burke’s signature writing elements is providing titles for each chapter; Calamity Magnetism, Pandora’s Box, Donkey Games, Angry Women, and A Place Called Home, to name a few. It’s my own little mystery as I try to discern her rationale or inner meaning for her choices. I love it!
Bonus! No matter the theme or degree of drama, readers can always count on several easy to-follow recipes for any occasion: [Bernadette’s] Italian Beans and Green, Tangy Spicy Chicken Margherita with Easy Homemade Pesto, and Simple Garlic and Olive Oil Linguine, [Frank’s favorite] Italian Cream Cake, [Brien drools for] Vegan Brownies, and [Bribe worthy] Italian Lemon Drop Cookies (Anginetti) and Chocolate Amaretti Cookies.
Alert! The next book, A Dead Surgeon, is set to be released later this year. Jessica has been visiting her personal physician for “personal” reason, but is shocked when she receives a call from her doctor frantic that she is the primary suspect in the death of a former colleague…but the issue is more complicated since the victim is also the doctor’s ex-husband!
Be a Big Anna Celeste Burke Fan!
Along with the six-book Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series, Anna Celeste Burke pens four other very entertaining series that offer different aged females with realistic flaws but strength of character and different setting within California from the coast to the desert, but all with the same well-written adventure, humor, and realism. There is the seven-book Georgie Shaw Mystery, the three-book Seaview Cottages Mystery, the three-book Calla Lily Mystery, and the three-book Corsario Cove Mystery.
Exciting Giveaways! To enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card (one winner), eBook copy of the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery set Book 1-5 (two winners), OR eBook copy of A Dead Nephew (two winners), you just need to use the Rafflecopter set up by author Anna Celeste Burke. The winners will be selected on July 18, 2020. You must be at least 18 to enter. Be sure to read the “Terms and Conditions” on the Rafflecopter. The KRL privacy statement is HERE if you’d like to read it.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also check our our new mystery podcast! A new episode goes up on New Year’s Day.
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