by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of Silence Says the Most by Kathleen Bailey along with an interesting interview with Kathleen. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it.
Silence Says the Most: Olivia Penn Mystery Series By Kathleen Bailey
Review by Kathleen Costa
“Dear Ms. Penn…”
Five months ago, Olivia Penn returned to her hometown of Apple Station, Virginia. She had planned to stay for a short respite before heading off to her new job in the Big Apple, but circumstances, including a murder, caused her to reevaluate her future and then, deciding to work remotely writing her popular advice column, “Penn’s Pal.” She is living with her father William and beagle puppy Buddy, and since her late mother had been a writer, her shed makes for the perfect writing studio. Although she grew up in this small town, acclimating to the slower pace, after having lived and worked in Washington, D.C., is a work in progress. But, she has girl’s night with several friends who are more like sisters and frequent lunches with A.J. Matthews who is more like a brother; they all keep her grounded.
Silence Says the Most Earns 5/5 Algae Blooms…Clever & Engaging!
It’s lunchtime and the weather is perfect for Olivia and A.J. to enjoy a picnic on the shores of Lake Crystal. An algae bloom has spread a noxious odor, but Buddy’s not ready to go home…just one more game of fetch. Olivia questions why someone from Virginia Department of Environmental Quality would be checking the lake, but seeing a flash of a young boy all alone in the woods worries her. Kevin Fields, the park ranger, is seen talking to the VDEQ employee, and the young boy, Mikey, lives just outside the park boundaries with his mother. Boom! The gunshot is a disturbing surprise. Jason Rotterdam, who also lives nearby, is know for a bit of poaching, but a possible rabid raccoon looks to have been his target. Time to head home.
Buddy continues to be agitated after his time at the park, and Olivia hopes to have him unload some of his energy, but his favorite red ball is missing. She can’t understand why the red one is the only one he’d fetch, but her dad reminds her of the incident when she was ten and refused to go to school for picture day. William suggests she go back to the park to find the precious ball or Buddy will be unbearable all night without it. A needle in a haystack, she complains, but her dad decides he’ll go, heart trouble and all, reminding her a simple funeral is all he’d like to have… “Okay, stop…Fine. I’ll go. I’ll find his ball.” But that’s not all she finds…there’s a body in the water next to the dock.
Blooming Good! Kathleen Bailey’s second book in her Olivia Penn Mystery is another clever, engaging drama with a complex mystery weaving environmental issues, organic farming, and development projects all wrapped up in a corn maze, costumes, and lots of Halloween fun. Pressure from the paper’s editor to get the scoop puts Olivia in an awkward position culminating with several run ins with law enforcement. But, even being considered a target herself doesn’t slow her down. Hidden agendas. Past connections. Greed. It all culminates in a nail-biting fight to survive.
Kathleen’s writing style is very entertaining with sensory-laden description of the environment, the Halloween festivities, characters, and mood, and her banter illustrates well the emotional connections and multi generational personalities. The characters are realistic with several admirable characters: a troubled vet finding his place, a single mother struggling with a special needs child. It was a compelling idea to include an autistic boy whose non-verbal skills posed a unique obstacle in the investigation, and Liv’s nosing around has Detective Preston in conflict with his superior. There continues to be an air of something between Olivia and Preston as they dance around their interest for each other, and if Preston’s mother has anything to say, it’ll all turn out. But Daniel, the ex, is texting giving Olivia an opportunity to compare, contrast, and make a decision about what she really wants in life. Complex mystery. Diverse characters. A nice bit of romance. A favorite in my book!
Olivia Penn Mystery series
Where the Light Shines Through: (2021) KRL Reviewed HERE
Silence Says the Most (2022)
Be a Big Fan of Kathleen Bailey!
Kathleen Bailey is a new-ish author of traditional cozy “mysteries with heart and humor.” With degrees in English, psychology, and physical therapy and twenty-years of experience as pediatric physical therapist, she can include many fascinating elements to her work. Subscribe to her newsletter: kathleenbaileyauthor.com.
Interview with Kathleen Bailey:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Kathleen: I’ve been writing in one form or another ever since I was a child. In terms of writing with the goal of publication, I started in 2019.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Kathleen: My first novel, Where the Light Shines Through, was published in 2021. This is the first book in The Olivia Penn Mystery Series. The series follows the story of advice columnist Olivia Penn as she goes through a transitional period in her life, partially due to a succession of murder mysteries she gets wrapped up in. The series is set in her hometown of Apple Station, Virginia, which is in the Shenandoah Valley. As a cozy series, justice always prevails with no explicit language or details.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Kathleen: Writing mysteries is my jam, and I’m sticking to it!
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Kathleen: Silence Says the Most is book two in The Olivia Penn Mystery Series, so the entire cast is back in Olivia’s hometown of Apple Station, Virginia. This is a fictional setting based on a few towns in the Shenandoah Valley. I’m a lifelong resident of Virginia, so it’s a location I know well. Virginia is a state of great geographical and cultural diversity. The area where the series is set has beautiful landscapes and experiences a true four-season year, which allows me to infuse loads of atmospheric details into the stories.
For the series protagonist, I wanted to create a character who was independent, successful, and had agency over her life. Though bad things may happen to her, she responds to them and becomes stronger because of the challenges. I’m drawn to reading and writing about aspirational characters that hint at the heroic in all of us.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?
Kathleen: Entertainment is at the heart of my intention for the reader. Cozies can be inspirational, aspirational, escapist, or just plain fun. They are stories you can curl up with, and know that in this space, while you’re with this story, everything is going to be okay.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Kathleen: I typically write in the afternoons, though I’m not married to it. The day sometimes needs to be triaged, and I make use of what time I have. Ideally, I like to write in the afternoon. I tend to all my other responsibilities in the morning and allow my afternoons to be dedicated to the creative work.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Kathleen: I’m a plotter, and so I do an extensive outline before drafting. Much of the initial work in developing the themes, character arcs, and plot involves free writing in a notebook. Then, I’ll outline the mystery using Scrivener while making liberal use of sticky notes to remind me of all the things I need to include, address, correct, etc.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Kathleen: There was a large learning curve in publishing my first book. My background as a pediatric physical therapist, though, helped me keep a healthy perspective on the process. I worked with children with special needs, and therapy typically involved motor skill development, which was often a long-term process. A child doesn’t go from just being able to sit up to walking independently overnight.
Developing a solid foundation requires patience, determination, and lots of little steps. In the same way, the distinct processes of writing and publishing require long-term thinking. Sometimes, the daily gains are hard to see, but all those small steps inevitably make you stronger and move you closer to where you want to be.
KRL: What are your future writing goals?
Kathleen: I’m going to continue to write The Olivia Penn Mystery Series, and when that’s complete, I’m starting a new mystery series.
KRL: Who are your writing heroes?
Kathleen: Louise Penny has inspired me. I started reading her Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Series when I was in my thirties and working as a pediatric physical therapist. I had wanted to be a writer ever since I was in the first grade, but the practicalities of life had me in a season that was very far from realizing that dream. I learned, though, Louise Penny didn’t begin writing novels until she was in her forties, and her first book was published when she was forty-six. I knew back then it was not the right time for me to switch careers, but her story inspired me to never let my dream die. As life goes, I started writing in my mid-forties, and a few years later, I’m a full-time author.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Kathleen: Loads of research goes into writing, but most of it is not detailed in the book. For instance, in Silence Says the Most, there is a mysterious algae bloom that occurs at a lake. I did a lot of research to ensure that the scenario was plausible, but the reader only needs to know what is germane to the mystery.
In my first book, Where the Light Shines Through, I included an epilogue of sorts that spoke to two specific plot points that were key to the mystery because both issues aren’t well known or understood, and I thought some readers may be interested in learning the factual basis for them. The research is ongoing throughout the writing. Much of the research related to the crime gets done during the plotting phase, but there are always things I’m looking up as I’m drafting and editing to ensure accuracy.
KRL: What do you like to read?
Kathleen: I don’t have an absolute favorite genre, but I lean toward mysteries, especially cozies. I enjoy romance, magical realism, paranormal women’s fiction, and lots of varied non-fiction.
KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Kathleen: I don’t watch a lot of television, but I’ll regularly tune in for The Great British Baking Show and any iteration of Project Runway. My favorite all-time TV series include Fringe, Longmire, and Mystery Road.
KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Kathleen: Read in the genre you want to write. Know the genre expectations and have a sense of story structure. Have your writing edited by a professional editor. Keep at it and know that writing is a process. It’s like learning to walk. Your first drafts may look and feel a bit wobbly, but with repetition, you’ll build strength, and soon your writing legs will steady and keep you moving forward, step by step.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Kathleen: I’ve eaten an apple almost every day for over thirty years. That’s in the ballpark of 11,000 apples!
KRL: Wow. Do you have any pets?
Kathleen: I recently adopted a kitten and she has me completely wrapped around her little paws.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Kathleen: I want to thank all my readers for their support. You can connect with me through my website at kathleenbaileyauthor.com. For updates, news, and occasional photos of my adorable feline fur baby, please join my newsletter.
To enter to win a copy of Silence Says the Most (winner’s choice of print or ebook-be sure to state which you prefer), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “silence,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 19, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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 listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. 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.
Sounds like a good read.
Would love to try it.
Thanks so much for checking out my book, Mary! I’m glad it piques your interest!
Silence Says the Most by Kathleen Bailey sounds like an interesting book with lots of plot twists and turns! I’d love to read it.
Thanks so much for your interest in reading my book, Nancy! I do like to make things twisty!
I like the premise of this and have not read anything from this author, but would love to.
Thanks so much, Madeleine! That’s music to my heart!
New author for me, I’d like to be included! tWarner419@aol.com
I would love to have you read it, Teresa! Thanks so much for your interest and for supporting Kings River Life Magazine!
I have not read any books by this author so this would be a good start for me.
That makes my heart happy, Linda! Thanks so much for checking out my latest release!
Thank you so much for sharing as well as the opportunity. I would love to have a paperback. God bless you.
Deeply grateful for your interest in my book, Debra! I would go for the paper back too!
I would love to win the print copy of Silence says the most! Thank you for the chance to win your wonderful giveaway!!?
Sending you a virtual high five for your interest in my book, Sherry! Much gratitude!
We have a winner!