Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ax to Grind (A Kenni Lowry Mystery Book 3)

Author:  Tonya Kappes
Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635112504; 9781635112474
Henery Press Publishing
256 Pages
$31.91; $15.95; $4.99 Amazon
September 19, 2017

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Ever daydream about taking a little revenge?  Lifting a corner of that precious rug everyone's busy sweeping secrets under?  Well, let me tell you about Beryle Stone.  She was a bestselling author and the most famous citizen to ever come out of Cottonwood, Kentucky.  She knew everyone in town and they knew her.  And when she died, she put all her worldly possessions up for auction.  All but one.

She left behind a hidden tell-all about Cottonwood that's got more gossip than a ladies' luncheon.  Oh, Lordy, does that make the town hot.  I'm not talking Deputy Finn Vincent hot, I'm talking hot under those Southern collars hot.  And since revenge is a dish best served cold, things turn ugly.  Someone gets an ax to the back and the only witness gets put in a coma.

Enter Sheriff Kenni Lowry.  She reckons someone in town will do anything to keep the manuscript from seeing the light of day.  And it's her job to find out who.  She starts uncovering as many secrets as there are suspects.  Of course her poppa's ghost returns to help.  He pieces together the life of the Beryle he once knew, but his memory's a little foggy, and any misstep could cause them a world of trouble.  Can Kenni sort through the secrets buried in Beryle's books, or will this be her final chapter?

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Kenni Lowry, Sheriff of Cottonwood, Kentucky, has her hands full.  On top of her attraction to her deputy, Finn Vincent, her ex-deputy Lonnie Lemar is running against her.  Cottonwood's most famous citizen, Beryle Stone, has died and left her estate to various charities - with her cousin Ruby Smith as executor - which is causing an influx of tourists and problems among the locals.

Beryle had an assistant, Cecily, who's insisting there's a missing manuscript that needs to go to the publisher and not be part of the estate to be auctioned off.  It seems the manuscript is possibly a 'tell all' about people in the town.  Beryle, a famous writer, based her books on the people of Cottonwood; even though she changed names and altered details, someone doesn't want the truth known - enough to kill.

So late one night Beryle's assistant Cecily is found dead in an alley, and Lonnie's wife Paige injured inside Ruby's antique shop, sending Lonnie into a frenzy and Kenni up to her ears in suspects.  What she discovers along the way is that Beryle's mentally disabled sister, thought long dead, is still alive and being cared for at a local inn - and Kenni (and the town) have known her for years under another name.  Then there's also the little thing about an unpublished manuscript that Beryle left...the one everyone seems to be after, and Cecily was probably killed for.  But no one knows where it is, and with the help of her Poppa's ghost, Kenni learns that nothing good can occur when buried secrets are unearthed, and she needs to find a killer before they have a chance to permanently write her off...

Cottonwood, Kentucky is a small town with an eccentric population.  Kenni followed in her grandfather's footsteps to become sheriff and nearly sent her mother into an apoplectic fit.  But since she's running for re-election, her mother is her staunchest supporter.  Her mother is a hoot and the purest form of Southern lady I've ever known.  The interaction between these two is alone worth reading the book.

But it's the ghost of her grandfather 'Poppa' that gives life to the story (see what I did there?) as he helps her solve the crimes.  In this book, Kenni has figured out a key fact about her Poppa being there that neither of them knew, and her relationship with Finn is undergoing some major changes along the way.

This is the third book in the series, and it keeps getting better as it progresses.  Kenni is capable, smart, stubborn and attractive to boot; and Finn seems to have settled into Cottonwood quite nicely after moving from Chicago.  The mystery is written well and plenty of curve balls along the way to keep it going.  Once we learn about Beryle's sister being alive, it's interesting to watch all the pieces come together slowly, until it's almost too late.

When the murderer is revealed, it comes as a complete surprise.  While the clues were there (and I figured out those pretty quickly since I read a lot of mysteries) the identity of the killer was still a little staggering.  What seems to be the truth isn't, and what seems hidden is sometimes right out in the open.  The reason for the murder was a little sad; it all seemed so senseless in the end.

All in all, an excellent mystery with believable and convincing characters.  Ms. Kappes has written another tale that is suspenseful and enjoyable.  The books just keep getting better and I hope this series stays around for a long time.  I look forward to reading the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Ax-Grind-Kenni-Lowry-Mystery/dp/1635112478/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2177120204

More on Tonya Kappe's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/k/tonya-kappes/

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