Murder by the Book by Betsy Brannon Green



It may be my imagination but I think Betsy Brannon Green get better with every book she writes. And I’m not the only one. Author of over fifteen novels to date, Green was chosen as a finalist for the 2008 Whitney Awards in the category of Best Mystery and Suspense. Her book Murder by the Numbers, published through Covenant Communications in 2009 is also a finalist this year.

If the title Murder by the Numbers, doesn’t clue you in to the fact that this is a murder mystery, then the cover riddled with gunshot holes and dripping blood is a dead giveaway (Get it… DEAD giveaway…) There are a lot of things about Green’s writing that I like, her unusual settings, her imaginative plot twists, but I think where Green really shines is in her characterizations. When you open the cover of a BB Green book you are walking into a world peopled with unique and believable characters so real you feel like they might live down the street or work at the post office where you buy your stamps.

In Murder by the Book, Green creates a very complex heroine by the name of Kennedy Killingsworth. Kennedy has just divorced her philandering husband and runs the local library in Midway, Georgia. Granted the facility consists of two trailers, but Kennedy (who lives on Pepsi and cookies) has dreams of expanding into four one day.

When Foster Scoggins the old unkempt patriarch of the Scoggins brood and owner of the local salvage yards brings his grand-daughter Heaven (who is nothing like her name) into the library, little does Kennedy know that within a few hours the man will be dead.

Rumors fly around Midway that old Scoggins killed himself over a love affair gone sour, but Kennedy doesn’t buy it. People who are ready to leave this world don’t apply for library cards and what woman in her right mind would have gotten anywhere near the smelly old coot?

Miss Eugenia of nearby Haggerty, agrees with Kennedy. You may remember this clever matronly crime solver from former Green books. With encouragement from her elderly friend, Kennedy pushes for answers and finds more secrets and motives than she ever imagined and almost as many possible love interests.

I love a good mystery and Murder by the Book fits the bill. Green creates a perfect balance of clever humor and romance while never dropping the suspense ball. The pace is quick, the clues are plentiful and the author keeps her readers guessing right up to the climax.

This book will not disappoint.


Saving Madeline by Rachel Ann Nunes


Rachel Ann Nunes is something of an icon in LDS writing. Author of over twenty-nine novels, including the well known Ariana series, Nunes has broached a broad variety of subject matter and settings in her books. In Flying Home, Nunes’ main character flies home to India to confront her past. The Ariana series is begun in France, and The Independence Club deals with the lives and loves of five very different single women.

Rachel’s newest novel coming out in April 2010, Imprints, deals with a heroine who can read the emotional imprints left on treasured objects and uses this paranormal gift to try and help find missing loved ones.

I recently had the opportunity to read Saving Madeline, published in September 2009 by Shadow Mountain. Saving Madeline was inspired by the huge problem of young children being raised in and around the dangerous world of drug abuse.
On her website, Nunes’ explains the issue like this:

“States seem to be losing the battle against methamphetamine addiction. Child welfare, law enforcement, substance abuse, and treatment systems are overloaded. Some estimate that over 8.3 million children in the United States live with a parent who has a substance abuse issue. Nearly 2 million child abuse cases each year are investigated and a half million of those have enough evidence to act on. Some 200,000 children are removed from their homes each year.

But what about the cases that aren’t proven? What about the children who fall through the cracks, but are still at risk? To what lengths might a non-custodial parent be compelled to go in order to protect a child from danger?”

Saving Madeline tells the story of Parker Hathaway , a non-custodial father who fears for the life of his four-year-old daughter. Her mother and her mother’s boyfriend are heavily into drug use and sales, but smart enough to keep their activities below the radar of the local police. In frustration, Parker makes a daring attempt to kidnap his daughter, but is eventually caught, and his daughter returned to her mother.

Caitlin McLoughin is a public defender, who’s getting tired of defending the bad guys. Assigned to Hathaway, she is hesitant to believe that his concerns have any truth. But as she investigates the situation it soon becomes clear that young Madeline’s life may very well be in danger if something isn’t done soon.

This story combines a strong love story aspect with a very well written and suspenseful plot and the pace was fast enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. Nunes’ creates characters that are interesting with unusual aspects and quirks. And although this is a book that an LDS reader would be comfortable reading, it does not overtly mention the church itself or its teachings.

For those readers who like the excitement of mystery with the romance of love discovered, you won’t be disappointed in Saving Madeline by Rachel Ann Nunes.