Publisher: Lynda McDaniel Books
Date of publication: August 15th, 2016
When a young woman is found dead in a wilderness area of the North Carolina mountains, the county sheriff says suicide. Della Kincaid disagrees. As a former reporter in Washington, D.C., she knows how to hunt down the real story. But she’s living in Laurel Falls, N.C., trying to revive a struggling general store and create a new life for herself. Without her usual sources, she turns to an unlikely cast of characters—friends, customers, ex-husband, and forger. With their help, she uncovers how unbridled greed has spawned an interwoven series of crimes and sorrows. Along the way, Kincaid discovers how much the Appalachian landscape and its people mean to her.
Lynda McDaniel, award-winning author of 15 books, has woven together true events from her early years living “back to the land” in Appalachia with an intriguing mystery story.
“A Life for a Life,” an autobiographical mystery novel, shares funny, moving, and surprising stories from those years. You’ll meet a cantankerous laundromat owner who was just as weird as Lynda portrayed her, and a gentle giant of a beekeeper whose love for his family was as big as he was. And Cleva, who’s based on a lovely woman who taught Lynda how to can tomatoes and make the best blackberry jam you’ve ever tasted. Many of the other characters are fashioned after real people who opened their hearts to this deer-in-the-headlights city slicker. Lynda had moved to the mountains of North Carolina to see what rural life was all about. Over the years, she realized that everything that is important to her today—she learned in her Appalachian home.
I very rarely read books that are straight mysteries. The mysteries that I read have thriller and/or psychological elements in them. To be honest, I was getting a tad bored reading them. So when I got the invite to review A Life for a Life and read the synopsis, I decided that I needed a change. I am glad that I decided to read this book. It was a well-written mystery that kept me guessing to the end.
The plotline for A Life for a Life was very simple. Della, a former reporter now running a country store, stumbles across the body of a young girl. Everything points to suicide but Della thinks that there is more to the story. So she starts doing what she does best, investigating. With her sidekicks, Abit and Jake, Della digs into the case. What she discovers will change the lives of many people in her small town.
I liked Della. I liked how she dug into Lucy’s case and refused to let it go. She had so much thrown at her during the course of the book. She had opposition from the sheriff. Her dog was kidnapped (well, dognapped). Her store was vandalized and then set on fire. If it was any other person, they would have dropped the case. But not Della, it made her even more determined to find out why Lucy was killed.
Abit was one of the sweetest characters that I have read to date. He had a way of looking at the bright side of things that made me smile. He also had thick skin. He had to. I mean, look at his nickname, Abit. His father gave it to him while describing him as “a bit slow“. Even though he was slow, he had an amazing insight into the people in his town.
I thought that the mystery angle of the book was well written. I usually figure out who the murderer is by the middle of the book. Or at least the motive. Both were kept under wraps and not revealed until the end of the book. The red herrings that the author threw out were wonderful too. I did think that the murderer was the person that was arrested.
What I liked the most about this book was the small town feel that I got from it. I know, getting a small town feel from a book. I’m nuts. But, I do. The other thing is that I live in Western North Carolina. I live in the Foothills. Everything that was written in this book could have been where I live.
The end of A Life for a Life was excellent. Like I mentioned above, the author did a fantastic job of keeping the murderer and the motive under wraps. She also did a fantastic job of wrapping up the smaller storylines and merging them with the main one. There were no loose ends.
I would give A Life for a Life an Older Teen rating. There is no sex. There is language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.
I would reread A Life for a Life. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.
I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read and review A Life for a Life.
All opinions stated in this review of A Life for a Life are mine.
Have you read A Life for a Life?
Do you like it when the author keeps a mystery 100% under wraps?
Why or why not?
Let me know!!