Congratulations to Sheri Levy who won LIKE A RIVER on last week's blog. Thanks to many of you who entered this popular giveaway. Ironically, Sheri is the reason for this week's review. Read on!
*********As my faithful blog readers know, I generally read and review middle grade or young adult books, but every now and then an adult book sneaks into my pile. Judy Penz Sheluk, author of The Hanged Man's Noose contacted me because I had reviewed Sheri Levy's book, Seven Days to Goodbye. Judy's book was also published by Barking Rain Press and she was interested in my reviewing her debut mystery.
Good thing I agreed. Now one of you will have a chance to win this entertaining book!
Although my WIP, Half-Truths, has elements of mystery, I've never attempted writing a suspense thriller. And while it's challenging writing a novel from two-points-of-view, the intricacies of the Hanged Man's Noose's plot and the way in which Sheluk wove together a complicated backstory, clues, and red herrings--makes me think that my work is a piece of cake. Or, perhaps, in the case of this Canadian whodunit, a "Treasontini"--blueberry vodka plus triple sec plus blueberry juice--as pictured on the cover.
The star of the show is Emily Garland, a journalist who comes to the small town of Lount's Landing to ostensibly start up a small niche magazine. In reality, her boss wants her to find out the scoop on mega-real estate developer, Garrett Stonehaven. Emily is only too happy to bring him to his knees because she thinks he had something to do with her mother's recent mysterious death.
In the process of getting to know the local business proprietors, Emily learns about Garrett Stonehaven's plans to convert an old school to a big box store. His vision for the town's future doesn't sit well with Emily's new friend, Arabella Carpenter, owner of a new antique store who wants to restore the historic main street.
When three people turn up dead in a short period of time Emily's investigative reporting becomes more serious. Her discovery of Stonehaven's past which links him to many of the town residents eventually puts Emily in danger herself.
Sheluk does a good job of characterization both with physical descriptions that match the characters' personalities as well as through their dialogue. Early on Emily meets two of Lount's Landing's townspeople:
The woman's hair was black as a raven's back and cropped close. With the exception of a pair of diamond stud earrings, she appeared to be decked out in yoga wear from head to toe.
Emily referred to the PDF and pegged her as Chantal Van Schyndle, owner of the Serenity Spa and Yoga Studio. She assume Hockey Jersey was Carter Dixon, owner of Slap Shot, a sporting goods store that Johnny wrote was "barely hanging on." (p.20)Later, Stonehaven and Arabella face off at her store's opening:
"The candlesticks are in the window of the Glass Dolphin for decoration, Mr. Stonehaven. They are not for sale."
"Nonsense, Ms. Carpenter. Everything is for sale at the right price. Everything and anybody. Even you." (p. 47)Emily's desire to find out the truth about her mother's death motivates her to press on--even when her own life is threatened. And in the end, Sheluk neatly ties up the many threads which she wove through the novel.
My only critique of the story is that there are a lot of characters to keep track of. Occasionally I had to backtrack to remember who a secondary character was. But kudos to Judy Sheluk for her well-plotted debut mystery.
I am offering my gently read copy of Hanged Man's Noose to one of you. To win, please leave me a comment by December 17 with your email address if you are new to my blog. If you become a new follower or share this on social media, I'll enter your name twice.