When social worker Hildy Schneider commits to an after-hours side job, she finds herself drawn into the darker side of small-town Sorenson, Wisconsin—and the twisted mind of an unnamed killer . . . Strange things have been happening since Hildy started moonlighting with local police, but a desperate late-night call involving a former patient from Sorenson General Hospital tops the list. Although Danny Hildebrand has been tormented by hallucinations for years, he swears he’s being haunted for real by the victim of a grisly murder . . . The rambling ghost story seems like another delusion. But after a body turns up in a neglected farmhouse crawling with secrets, Hildy and the magnetic Detective Bob Richmond rush to explain Danny’s knowledge of the incident. As the crime-solving partners unwittingly grow closer while examining a series of eerie leads, they realize that surviving past sunrise means shedding light on a criminal willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the shadows . . .
I do appreciate humor included in a novel, especially a cozy, where no one should take too seriously the serious stuff. It’s not meant to be dark and this narrative stays rather on the light side due in part to MC Hildy Schneider. She’s a social worker newly committing to a second job (maybe I missed why, but the usual is m o n e y) with the Sorenson Police Department. At any rate, there were several details missed in her job description when she signed on, one of which is that as a trial program with the police called Helping Hands, she’ll ride along with the night shift cop.
This could be a good thing using golden retriever Roscoe, a trained therapy dog, and her general experience with the hospital where she’s based as the social worker.
Her first night sees a homicide victim that manages to tie into one of her patients with schizophrenia who is obviously off his meds. Something is really wrong here–she knows he wouldn’t have done the deed–meds or no.
The author has peppered in a variety of damaged and unusual support characters along with the usual–one of my favs is PJ, the (autistic) teen who walks Roscoe. I’m still trying to make heads or tails of Detective Bob Richmond, but that’s a thread that will be further explored in the next series entry. The sense of humor manifests with some weirdly funny analogies producing a soft chuckle or two.
“…his room has all the ambience of a medieval dungeon and one neon yellow pillow isn’t going to fix that. That pillow is like a random piece of corn in the middle of a giant turd.”
“He might be a cam bolt shy of being fully assembled.”
The mystery is not that difficult and the perp is rather obvious early on with the motive by mid-book. Some twists meant to throw the reader off-track, don’t. The storyline is easy to follow and the characters add depth and a little fun to the narrative.
However, another damaged protagonist, while quite engaging is getting tiresome. There are repeats of conversations (wait…didn’t I just read that?) and commonly repeated descriptions.
The very real problem of a possible conflict of interest pops up that might lead to an in-depth discussion of which job comes first, takes precedent, and where should her allegiance lie? A situation that will surely force a resolution.
I’ve read this author before in one of her other series (Dead Ringer review here), thought I’d try this one. I tripped over a few quibbles, but basically enjoyed a well-plotted and easy-paced cozy read with characters I grew to invest in. Recommended.
Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion.
Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Medical Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books
Print Length: 266 pages
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
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Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.
For more Mattie Winston fun and to keep up with the latest news, visit http://www.mattiewinston.com
©2020 V Williams