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 Review Of The Day
 Death at Whitewater Church
 

Death at Whitewater Church (An Inishowen Mystery)

By: Andrea Carter
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: September 2018
ISBN: 978-1608093021
Reviewed by: Skyler Boudreau

Benedicta 'Ben' O'Keeffe is a solicitor acting for the owners of a de-consecrated church in disrepair when she comes across a mysterious skeleton wrapped in a blanket hidden in the church's crypt. The locals are convinced the skeleton must belong to Conor Devitt, a well-known neighbor who vanished six years before on his wedding day. Ben becomes embroiled in a mystery that has eaten away at her adopted community for over half a decade while simultaneously coming face to face with a past tragedy of her own. One that she would rather not dig up.

From the beginning of the novel, author Angela Carter draws the readers into the tight-knit town of Inishowen, rife with its secrets and dark history. She brilliantly captures the atmosphere of a small town where everybody knows everybody else's business. Her writing style imbues the story with a chilliness that permeates far more than just setting, which is in itself both charming and spooky.

As the reader discovers the deep, sometimes surprising connections between the people of Inishowen alongside Ben, they can't help but speculate as to the conclusion of the mystery themselves. Despite that, no amount of speculation will bring Carter's audience to the true answers to the questions that are sure to arise for them throughout the story.

Twists and turns are an obligatory part to any mystery novel and Carter definitely delivers. While unexpected developments are numerous throughout Death at Whitewater Church, they are never overwhelming or difficult to follow. Whenever her audience begins to relax, she throws something new at them and readers are once again on the edge of their seats.

One aspect of the story that is particularly interesting is the drama of Conor Devitt's disappearance. Though it's quickly revealed that Devitt is not the skeleton found in the crypt, the personal drama of his disappearance before the story takes places connects many members of the community in ways that both Ben and the reader do not expect. As the mystery of the skeleton is investigated, Ben learns more of the secrets that Inishowen has been hiding from her, as she is still a relatively new resident. Ben herself is an engaging character with a secret of her own. She is an excellent narrator who brings the story to life with her sharp observations and curiosity. Both intriguing and relatable to the reader, she is a stand-out among the many other colorful inhabitants of Inishowen.

Andrea Carter delivers a strong start to a new murder mystery series. Death at Whitewater Church is a clever story with a large cast of interesting characters. If the subsequent novels are anything like the opening one, she and her protagonist Ben are certain to attract a devoted following.

Quill says: The town of Inishowen definitely has a few more mysteries that need to be solved!

Author Feathered Quill Book Reviews  Added On Thu May 02nd,2019
Rating (0)  Category Mystery/Thrillers
 
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 Latest Reviews
 Interview with Author Linda Gould
 
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Katie Specht is talking with Linda Gould, author of Gilded Prisons.
FQ: Your earlier novel, Let’s Play Ball, was a story with some of the same characters that you included in Gilded Prisons. What led you to write another book with these characters?
GOULD: While the two novels were published roughly eleven years apart, I always felt that there was some “unfinished business” left over from the first story. Let’s Play Ball centered around the kidnapping of a Cuban-American ballplayer, a plot concocted in Cuba. All of the issues that prompted that crime seemed to have been resolved the first time around, but grievances like that have a way of regenerating. Guadalupe, the ballplayer’s ex-wife, was the character most likely to revisit those issues.
FQ: Do you have any plans for a future story with the characters from Let’s Play Ball or Gilded Prisons?
GOULD: I can see them all getting older in my mind, and perhaps more satisfied with life as they age. That might not be conducive to more drama, but who knows?
FQ: What was the inspiration behind the story of Gilded Prisons?
GOULD: I’ve been a baseball fan ever since my dad took me to my first game, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC, when I was seven. Every game, and every season, is full of drama and nuances. I wanted to portray some of those twists and turns as the backdrop for these stories, hoping the reader would appreciate the beauty of the game as much as I do. The Washington Filibusters of my story are based on my own Washington Nationals, who finally reached the mountaintop in 2019 after falling short many times.
FQ: You label yourself a “career bureaucrat.” Can you elaborate on what this title entails and how your career has inspired the political twists often found in your novels?
GOULD: My first full-time job out of college was with the Fulbright grants program, a quasi-government program. After 5 years, I moved on to the Department of Labor and spent almost 35 years there. I’ve always been intrigued by office politics and intrigue. My first novel, Secretarial Wars (2003), revolved around a secretary’s efforts to uncover a scandal in a Fulbright-like program. The office was based on a real one, but the scandal was made up. Several of my stories do feature office settings. For some reason, my heroines tend to be discontented employees.
FQ: One thing I appreciated about Gilded Prisons was the level of development you put into the characters. Were any of your characters based on people you know in real life or did you develop them purely from your imagination?
GOULD: Justin was modeled after an actual ballplayer, but not knowing much about his personal life, I made up many of the details. April was based on what I imagined his ideal wife would be like, especially one who involved herself in the community. Guadalupe seems to have been a figment of my feverish imagination, as I’ve never actually known anyone who combines evil, power, and beauty in such a unique way. I also wanted to make her redeemable, which was a challenge.
FQ: You have written six novels. Does any particular book stand out as having been the most gratifying for you to write?
Author Linda Gould
GOULD: Secretarial Wars was fun because it recalled some of the work and dating experiences I had as a twenty-something in DC. Handmaidens of Rock (2014) was also nostalgic in that it recalled the cultural changes that were roiling young people during my high school years. But when it came to the writing process, Gilded Prisons was the fastest, possibly because it had been germinating for some time. It seemed to come out easier, with fewer tangles to straighten out. Also, I was without my beta reading group for the first time, so I had to learn to trust myself more.
FQ: I found it especially interesting how much of the story explained what happened after Justin was reunited with his family. Did you have the entire story planned out when you began writing or did you develop it as you wrote?
GOULD: I don’t write romances per se, so a happy ending isn’t a given. Still, I like my stories to be uplifting, even if not fully resolved. I knew from the beginning that Justin and April would find a way to turn the horrifying events into something positive. I wanted redemption even for Guadalupe, who instigated the events.
FQ: After reading the book, I can come to my own conclusions as to the meaning behind the title Gilded Prisons. Could you explain your motivation for titling the book as you did?
GOULD: Guadalupe uses the term “gilded prison” to describe the Cuban presidential palace where she reigns as de facto first lady. April has similar feelings when she sees other baseball wives living their lives as ornaments rather than using their privileged positions to do something meaningful. Later, the two women bond over this common feeling. Both have succeeded in “breaking out” of their respective prisons.
FQ: Within the story, there are numerous serious societal issues present, including adopted children, sexual assault, political tension, and corrupt politicians. How did you decide which social issues to include in your book?
GOULD: As in Let’s Play Ball, the kidnapping of a baseball player is the catalyst of the story, but I wanted it to be more than just an act of lust. There are also political and international motivations behind the crime, some of which take years to unravel, and some of which remain mysterious.
FQ: Towards the end of the book, there are many references to the young boy, Trevor, being destined for great things in his life. Are you considering any plans to write a book that will focus on his adult life?
GOULD: It’s something to think about! Trevor seems to have a future not only as a ballplayer but as a political leader. At eleven, he is already coming to grips with the unusual circumstances of his origin and his status as an adopted child. He knows that regardless of that, he belongs. He has a sense of being special without being conceited. And he sees clearly that the world adults have made needs to be changed. It’s difficult to project 20 years ahead, but I like to think that kids like Trevor are the “new day.” We really need them to change the world.
Author Feathered Quill Book Reviews  Added On Thu Oct 14th,2021
Rating (0)  Category Interviews
 Tokyo Zangyo
 
Tokyo Zangyo (Detective Hiroshi Series Book 4)
By: Michael Pronko
Publisher: Raked Gravel Press
Publication Date: July 2021
ISBN: 978-1942410256
Reviewed By: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: October 12, 2021
In the highly anticipated fourth novel of the outstanding Detective Hiroshi mystery series, Tokyo Zangyo, author Michael Pronko once again captivates readers with his expert storytelling ability.
Zangyo, a Japanese word for the concept of mandatory, unpaid, overtime work, is the central theme in author Pronko’s gripping new thriller. While many employees throughout the world may have experienced the occasional necessity of working well past quitting time, the Japanese work culture is beyond brutal and working insane amounts of extra hours is often a necessary and mandatory evil. Unfortunately, this type of work ethic, while possibly beneficial to the business, and overall economy of the country, only leads to individual burnout and dire health consequences.
Our story begins with the same level of intense energy as in the previous novels that readers have come to expect - an executive at one of Japan’s top media companies takes a plunge from high atop their building’s headquarters, to his death. Detective Hiroshi is summoned to the scene and quickly gathers and analyzes critical information that leads him to wonder if the executive committed suicide, or was he somehow forced off the side of the building by someone else. The detective attempts in earnest numerous times, and from different angles, to gather information from the other executives and department heads to arrive at the correct answer, but he is continually being thwarted by them, as if they’re covering something up much deeper than what lies on the surface. What Hiroshi does manage to discover, after spending time digging in various odd and generally unsavory areas, is that one of the dead executive's employees was caught in a tornado of zangyo herself, and committed suicide (exactly three years prior). Even more surprising is that she fell from the exact same place where he fell to his death. But is this fact a mere coincidence, or did the executive kill himself out of guilt, or perhaps he was forced into jumping? Together with his work comrades, Detective Hiroshi, (often himself a victim of the intensely stressful, and overworked culture) aims to find the real answers, no matter what it takes.
Like the author’s previous novels, Tokyo Zangyo is not just your average murder mystery thriller. It’s a much more complex mix of fiction, and an exploration of what the author believes is a critical issue with Japan's often ruthless corporate philosophy. When you pick up this novel you aren’t merely reading for entertainment, you receive a bit of a bonus education (that’s compelling throughout), and exposure to a culture that is mostly unfamiliar to the American reader. Each of the characters in this story, both new and recurring, continue to be well-formed, and even though this is the fourth novel in the series, they haven’t become stale and predictable. In fact, as this story comes to a satisfying conclusion led by the author’s talented writing ability, it leaves readers wanting to read more, and ultimately learn more.
Quill says: Both riveting and enlightening, Michael Pronko continues to impress readers with his fourth novel in the Detective Hiroshi series, Tokyo Zangyo.
For more information on Tokyo Zangyo (Detective Hiroshi Series Book 4), please visit the author's website at: www.michaelpronko.com
Author Feathered Quill Book Reviews  Added On Wed Oct 13th,2021
Rating (0)  Category Mystery/Thrillers
 Gilded Prisons
 
Gilded Prisons
By: Linda Gould
Publication Date: April 2021
ISBN: 979-8-742818762
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: October 12, 2021
Author Linda Gould's newest offering, Gilded Prisons, is a thrilling mystery with political undertones. Gould pens a unique story of the kidnapping of a famous athlete motivated by political reasons.
Major League baseball player Justin Moore truly has it all: a prominent career, a devoted wife, two beautiful daughters, great friends, and stunning good looks. However, Justin’s life as he knows it comes crashing down one autumn day as he is forcefully kidnapped at gunpoint. The kidnappers intrude on Justin and two fellow teammates after a workout at the baseball stadium, leaving the teammates tied up and fleeing with Justin.
Investigation into the kidnapping reveals that it was devised by a woman named Guadalupe, who is the estranged ex-wife of a Cuban American baseball player. As more information about her surfaces, it is revealed that she organized a kidnapping of a different baseball player in the past. While Justin is held as a prisoner by her and her husband, her rather selfish motives for the kidnapping are uncovered.
Further complicating the situation is the political tension that exists between Cuba and the United States. Using her political status as the wife of the Cuban president’s son, Guadalupe arranges virtual meetings with the President of the United States to discuss negotiations regarding Justin’s captivity and potential release.
When Justin finally makes it back home to his family, a period of healing and reintegration awaits him, his wife, and his daughters. Throughout his imprisonment, his wife, April, had been unwavering in her efforts to bring him home, despite the intense grief she was simultaneously experiencing. Justin and April, who were once the golden couple of the baseball world, must now pick up the pieces of their shattered lives as they attempt to adjust to a new normal. Their new reality ends up being vastly different than anything either of them could have ever imagined, with their combined resiliency playing an integral role in their recovery.
With Gilded Prisons, Gould has achieved a thrilling story of mystery, politics, and manipulation. Gould’s writing is succinct, and readers will appreciate experiencing the story from the perspective of more than one character as Gould divides the storytelling between the points of view of Justin, April, and Guadalupe.
It is worth noting that the character development that Gould achieves in Gilded Prisons is exemplary. There are numerous important characters in this story and frequently when there is a large cast of characters, an unfortunate result is often that their personalities are underdeveloped or lacking depth. Gould succeeds in presenting well-rounded characters that the reader is familiarized with effortlessly. Readers will find themselves rooting for Justin and April, while simultaneously, experiencing an intense aversion to Guadalupe and others who helped orchestrate the kidnapping.
Quill says: With Gilded Prisons, Gould has succeeded in writing a page-turner that is full of surprises that the reader will not see coming. The conclusion of the book will astonish the reader, leaving him or her longing for more pages in the story.
To learn more about Gilded Prisons, please visit the author’s website at: https://letsplayballbook.com
Author Feathered Quill Book Reviews  Added On Wed Oct 13th,2021
Rating (0)  Category Mystery/Thrillers
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