Genre: Literature and Fiction, Mystery, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Lynda McDaniel Books
Print Length: 341 pages
Publication Date: August 15, 2016
Source: Direct Author Request
Title and Cover: A Life for a Life–Simple cover–subtle subject suggestion
One mysterious death. One lazy sheriff. Two seekers of truth.
Della Kincaid escaped to the mountains of N.C. to get away from it all. Didn’t work. She discovers a dead woman in the wilderness and gets embroiled in the investigation. The sheriff says suicide; Kincaid says murder. As a former reporter in Washington, D.C., she knows how to chase the truth. Without her usual sources, she turns to an offbeat cast of characters—friends, forger, former husband, and new neighbor Abit Bradshaw, a challenged boy who’s spent the first 16 years of his life plagued by small-town bullies and family lies. They team up to search for answers to the possible murder—and to make peace with their own lives.
A Life for a Life is the first book in Lynda McDaniel’s internationally acclaimed Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series. Reviewers have compared her work to To Kill a Mockingbird and her storytelling style to that of Fannie Flagg. If you like page-turning dramas without over-the-top violence—but packed with suspense and character-driven stories—you’ll love this series.
Love those fiction mystery stories out of the Appalachians! Mention the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Mountains, or North Carolina and you’ll no doubt conjure up visions of beautifully forested slopes, lush valleys and good southern fried cooking, homemade pies to die for, and gracious hospitality. Yeah, and this book has most of that (hospitality? maybe not so much for suspicious newcomers). This, however, written in far more descriptive prose than I can conjure. Long a popular plot location of fiction mystery books, this one pulls in the people of tiny Laurel Falls and creates well-developed characters you can see and hear in your mind’s eye. (So easy to lapse into that drawl, too, by the end of the book.)
Protagonist Della Kincaid is a former DC reporter who fled from a failed marriage, years of tension, deadlines, and subtly veiled threats regarding her stories. She’s bought a small mom and pop general store and “inherited” the 15-year-old slightly learning disabled porch resident, Abit Bradshaw (son of the previous owners), and mixed breed, mid-sized doggy Jake. It was when she was hiking the woods with Jake that she encounters the body of a young woman. (Done “offstage,” we are spared gory details.)
Told in the POV of both Della and Abit, there is a marvelous blending of hints, ideas, and suggestions to follow, carefully leading you into another avenue of thought. The novel, first in the series, introduces the reader to an eclectic assortment of backwoods characters complete with mannerisms and speech patterns you’d swear were learned first hand. Della’s reporters’ instinct is revived and failing that locally, reaches out to several of her previous sources (including her ex, Alex) to help with the minute details that she feels point to murder, not suicide as the local sheriff is quick to decree and she loathe to accept.
Such an easy-flowing well-developed plot, gripping, that examines the characters and the mystery, each crumb leading closer to the emotional, sweet conclusion behind the climax that collars the perp and wraps the mystery. While you may have correctly guessed the perpetrator, you’ve been lead on a tale both engaging and timeless. The author is a master storyteller, weaving the reader in and out of well-fleshed characters you’re fully invested in to the bucolic countryside, vicariously tasting local honey and green beans, while quietly examining the next suspicious person. They all have secrets.
I was given this ebook download by the author with no expectations regarding the read and review. My only problem came in during the second half of the book in which I began to confront a few scattered bits of coarse language. I can honestly say, however, that I loved the book and can’t wait to dig into the second of the series. Recommended for any who enjoy the classics (e.g., To Kill a Mockingbird), literary fiction, women’s fiction, and just plain ole compelling storytelling. Prepare to read in one sitting.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars
[Lynda McDaniel] I love writing page-turners–both fiction and non-fiction. And I love helping others to do the same, living into their dreams of writing books. I believe my success comes down to a respect for my readers and clients. I know I’m easily bored, so I work hard to engage and inspire both audiences.
I got my start as a writer in the most unlikely place–a town of 200 people in the mountains of North Carolina. But living there changed my life in so many positive ways. Decades later, I realized that everything I value today, I was introduced to there. My Appalachian Mountain Mysteries–“A Life for a Life,” “The Roads to Damascus,” “Welcome the Little Children”–pay homage to the people of Appalachia who taught me so much. And to Mollie the Wonder Dog, who plays a role in both “The Roads to Damascus” (aka Millie) and in “Welcome the Little Children (as Millie and Mollie). Check out her photo to the right.
Over the years, I’ve written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters and blogs. I’m proudest of the 18 books I’ve written. My nonfiction books include “Words at Work,” which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) I’ve also written two Amazon Bestselling Books: “How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write” and “Write Your Book Now!” (with Virginia McCullough).
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve lived all over this country–from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Santa Rosa, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.
To keep up to date with Abit, Della, and the gang (and receive a free novelette that pulls back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they met in Laurel Falls), head over to http://www.LyndaMcDanielBooks.com. No spam, no pestering, just a free novelette and more backstory, special offers, and updates.
©2019 V Williams