Hard Rain by Samantha Jayne Allen (Mystery)

Second in the series about budding PI, Annie McIntyre.

Small town Garnett, Texas is suffering from a (very) wet natural disaster as heavy rain causes the river to jump its banks and bring massive floods. Preacher’s wife and old friend Bethany Richter hires Annie to find the man who rescued her from the flood while being swept off himself. The case gets muddied when the trail leads to a woman who is found dead in her truck, floating in the river. But she didn’t drown — she was shot. Nice and convoluted, with a wide variety of characters from drug dealers to preachers to drifters to Annie’s atypical family, their circle of friends, and their ties to law enforcement.

For me it was a little too long — I favor a more spare prose — but if you’re enjoying the story you night appreciate all of the novelistic commentary on scenery, character background, and fully fleshed out experiences. Annie suffers from occasional bouts of self-doubt which I hope she has less often in the future (I like to see characters grow!)

Thank you to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on April 18th, 2023

Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen (Mystery)

Writing: 4/5 Plot: 3.5/5 Characters: 4/5

Annie McIntyre returns home to small town Garnett, Texas with her tail between her legs, waitressing at the local cafe and wondering how she ended up back here. She slides into the family business (private investigating) with her grandfather when another waitress goes missing and is eventually found dead.

For me this was more a novel than mystery. The mystery did have a number of satisfying twists and turns with a healthy hodge-podge of possible suspects, motives, and witnesses — land grabs for oil pipelines, a nasty mother-in-law, illegals who aren’t able to testify for fear of discovery, etc. However, more of the book focussed on small town life (lots of drinking and continued high schoolish behavior by people no longer in high school) and self-discovery as Annie finds out why she wants to stay in Garnet after all and what she wants to do with her life.

Decent, entertaining, read. I did not discover an interest in visiting or living in Garnett.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book was published on April 19th, 2022.